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New ODA Bill 125
Third and Final Day of Second Reading Debate on Bill 125
November 20, 2001
(About 50 pages of text)
Ontario Hansard Tuesday, November 20, 2001 (Evening Session)
The House met at 1845.
Mr Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): On a point of
order, Mr Speaker: I don't believe we have quorum.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): Is there a quorum
Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present,
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: Orders of the day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES
ACT, 2001 /
Resuming the debate adjourned on November 19, 2001, on the motion
for second reading of Bill 125, An Act to improve the
identification, removal and prevention of barriers faced by
persons with disabilities and to make related amendments to other
Acts / Projet de loi 125, Loi visant à améliorer le repérage,
l'élimination et la prévention des obstacles auxquels font face
les personnes handicapées et apportant des modifications connexes
à d'autres lois.
Mrs Julia Munro (York North): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous
consent to allow me to complete the time remaining for the member
from Oak Ridges.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): Is there unanimous
Mrs Munro: I'm pleased to join second reading debate on Bill 125,
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001. With this bill, the
government is moving dramatically this fall to increase
independence and opportunity for persons with disabilities. We
are keeping our promise. Persons with disabilities will now have
more of a say than ever in decisions which affect their very
lives. It is a very proud moment all around.
The one aspect of the bill that has not attracted much comment is
the way it has engaged and involved persons with disabilities at
each and every stage of its development: through the
consultations, through the drafting and refining, and, most
importantly, through the content of the bill itself.
This bill asks something of everyone in Ontario, including
persons with disabilities. In fact, it would be true to say that
the bill gives persons with disabilities an unparalleled
opportunity to shape and mould change. For the first time in
Ontario's history, we're putting the disability community into
the framework of the legislation and asking them to be our
partner in driving it. No one can quarrel with the goal: an
Ontario in which no new barriers to persons with disabilities are
created, and where existing ones are removed. That's where we're
headed. We're not starting from scratch. We've got a solid
foundation of programs, services and involvement, and we're
I ask members: why is it that this bill has received the support
of so many prominent individuals and organizations representing
persons with disabilities? Where is the almost universal
opposition that greeted previous attempts to move the file
forward? Why can't opposition groups get momentum? I would
answer: because they have been outflanked and outworked by this
government. From the beginning, Minister Jackson practised an
engaging, inclusive form of consultation. He wanted to bring
everyone along with him. He gave no guarantees, but he also said
that nothing had been cast in stone. If someone was able to make
his case for something being in the bill, then in all likelihood
it would be in.
Let's look at the consultations. More than 100 groups and
individuals met with Minister Jackson. Many of them were persons
with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities and
group leaders. This was a learning curve that began last February
and hasn't stopped. The minister wanted to learn from individuals
within the disability community across our province and from
community leaders who had changed the lives of the disabled in a
very meaningful way. Meeting these individuals and seeing first-
hand the kinds of things that they had already done in their
communities helped to formulate the framework that exists in this
legislation. It is unique, but our model makes sense if you
understand what we are witnessing across Ontario: the way the
disability community in some municipalities has made some
We saw in the work that's been done an instrument to create
permanent change and to elevate the very standard in every
community in our province. We needed to engage the disability
community and ask them how we would make that change and create a
vision and a path from which we could develop the all-important
legislation they have been awaiting patiently for many years.
When the minister talked to these individuals and listened to
what they wanted to see happen in our province, it occurred to
him that we all really share the same vision and the same goals.
Simply put, people were asking for legislation that would do two
things: create no new barriers in our province and create a plan
whereby we would be able to systematically go back and remove all
the existing barriers in our province.
There was another common thread that emerged from the
consultations. Our stakeholders said, "You can't do this alone.
You have to set up partnerships. You have to get different groups
working with each other. You have to take advantage of the
advances that are already taking place, spread the word, share
best practices and build on that momentum."
For our part, we said: "Increasing accessibility is a priority.
We're proud to lead, but we cannot do it alone. It's a big
commitment, we're in it for the long haul and we're going to do
this right. Let's learn from each other, because what we need is
a coordinated, choreographed band of activity across several
sectors to achieve the vision."
And thus was born the signature feature of the bill: the notion,
accepted by all, that increasing independence and opportunity for
persons with disabilities is a shared responsibility across all
sectors and levels of society.
There are a number of municipalities and private sector
organizations that have already been developing proactive
approaches to ensuring that their communities are more inclusive
and more accessible. This can only be done by engaging persons
The most valuable lesson learned was how powerful change could
occur if the disabilities community was front and centre, was
listened to, was asked for input and it was acknowledged and
acted upon. Those communities that do it are doing a tremendous
job and getting lasting results in which their entire community
can take pride.
Look at our partners in the municipal sector. On their own, 16
councils have established accessibility advisory committees and
34 have passed resolutions calling on the province to make
Ontario fully accessible.
Our legislation will work toward a barrier-free Ontario as soon
as reasonably possible. That's what this legislation says. Do you
know who is going to decide whether it's reasonable? The
disabilities community who would sit on the Accessibility
Advisory Council of Ontario working on the regulations and
meeting with the private sector to say, "You tell us how you're
going to become compliant with this legislation." That's power.
In addition, the Accessibility Advisory Council, along with the
creation of an accessibility directorate, would provide an
oversight mechanism to review accessibility plans and ensure that
barrier removal is taken very seriously in this province. The
disability community has many members who deserve a voice. There
are many people in this community who deserve a voice on these
During our consultations, many businesses, municipalities and
other organizations said repeatedly they wanted to do the right
thing but that they didn't always have the information and
knowledge that enabled them to do so. As a result, good
intentions often fell short of expectations; no longer.
Our bill proposes the creation of an Accessibility Advisory
Council of Ontario which would report directly to the Minister of
Citizenship. Entrenched in legislation, the new council would
create a permanent, ongoing role for persons with disabilities.
The council would bring together individuals, including persons
with disabilities, who have the expertise, experience and
knowledge to provide strategic advice to the minister. It would
oversee implementation of the legislation. It would also be
charged with the responsibility of monitoring and advancing the
legislation and would provide annual reports on its activities.
The council would provide a long-term lens on accessibility
issues to ensure continual progress toward an accessible Ontario
over time. It would lever the support of all sectors, proactively
encourage partnerships, advise the minister and government on
disability issues and provide support for accessibility
I can quote the March of Dimes president, "If we all work
together, particularly governments and the private sector,
persons with disabilities will no longer be on the sidelines but,
rather, full participants."
I think from these few comments you can see why the passage of
this legislation is important and certainly something that would
be unparalleled in this province.
The Acting Speaker: Questions, comments?
Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I listened with interest to
the comments made by the previous speaker. First, when I look at
this legislation, I look at this government's track record when
it comes to the disabled. I look at the promise of six and a half
years ago that they were going to pass a meaningful piece of
legislation within the first four years. Obviously they failed
miserably to do that. They come in two and a half years into
their second mandate and bring in what is really a woefully
inadequate piece of legislation that barely starts the process.
I'm interested that the member across the floor quoted the March
of Dimes. I wish she would maybe quote some of the other
organizations, because since they have read the legislation, the
vast majority of organizations that represent disabled people
across Ontario have come out and slammed the legislation for its
weaknesses, for what it doesn't do. This Legislature unanimously
endorsed 11 principles of what an ODA should contain. Only one of
those is in this bill. There's no real provision here for
enforcement within the private sector, and then, as usual,
instead of being serious and dealing with the real issues, what
do they do? They go to the bumper sticker solutions: headlines,
$5,000 fines for parking in disabled spots. You know what? That's
a bit of a problem in Ontario. If they're serious about that, put
legislation in place -- because most times I go to a mall, I
don't see a problem with cars parked without stickers; what I see
is those spots being full. Maybe bring legislation in that forces
organizations and places to have more spaces available for
disabled people in Ontario. That's meaningful change, not simply
this bumper sticker solution of a fine that a judge will never
impose of $5,000.
Real change is needed. Real change is required. This government
has failed miserably again when it comes to dealing with the
disabled. Yes, they're going to ram this bill through against the
opposition of the vast majority of organizations that represent
disabled people in Ontario, but in two years we're going to take
this bill, we're going to overhaul it, we're going to fix it and
we're going to make sure Ontarians with disabilities are treated
with dignity and respect, not with the contempt of this
Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): I had an opportunity to
listen to the remarks made by the member from York North. She
started her remarks on this bill by talking about "moving
dramatically" to deal with issues of people with disabilities,
and I thought, "Moving dramatically, what does that mean?" I
think she means that they are doing something extraordinary as it
relates to people with disabilities, but we don't see that.
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): It's not in the bill.
Mr Marchese: I don't see it. People with disabilities who have
had an opportunity to review this bill don't see this "moving
dramatically" bill and so I wonder what bill we're speaking to,
because it's not the same bill that we are looking at. It can't
be. After six years of moving dramatically on a bill, you would
think they would have had plenty of time to listen to the people
who are affected; they're still listening. She's saying they're
in a mode to still listen to people with disabilities, after six
long years. You move dramatically to then create a bill that
says, "We still need to listen to people."
As it relates to the private sector, she says they're instructing
the private sector to tell us what they think they should do to
deal with issues of accessibility as they relate to people with
disabilities, and she said, "That's power." That's power? Julia,
please. You're saying to the private sector, "There's nothing
obligatory that you have to do," and you instruct them to look at
their plans and tell you what it is they should do and you say,
"Wow, that's power." Maybe it's me, but I don't get it. They're
not moving dramatically; they've moved at a snail-like pace to
arrive with a bill that doesn't speak to the issues that they
have been consulting on, and it's pitiful, I've got to tell you.
Mr Christopherson: Typical. Typical and pitiful.
Mr Marchese: Typically pitiful.
Mr Christopherson: Exactly.
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I want to congratulate the member
from York North for her comments and obviously the minister for
the bill. One of the very important hallmarks of this minister in
this portfolio and others he's held is how consultative he is. He
spent quite a bit of time around the province on workers'
compensation reform back in 1995-96. He came to my riding and to
many other ridings around the province to meet with groups on
this legislation and this package that comes forward today on
Ontarians with disabilities. That's a hallmark of this minister,
and that's why the day we introduced the legislation, the
building was filled with people from the disabilities community,
supportive of what the minister was bringing forward.
The members opposite want to neglect and want to forget all of
the things that this government has done in the past six years
for the disabled community. We've made huge increases in funding
in people in the community living sector. We've continued to move
folks out of institutions into community living -- huge
investments there. Children's treatment centres: we've
dramatically increased their funding. Members of the NDP actually
held them to the social contract and reduced their funding
between 1990 and 1995. Mr Marchese laughs about that, but I don't
think those children's treatment centres found that funny at the
time; they found it difficult.
We've brought in tax incentives for businesses to make workplaces
more accessible in Ontario. We've changed the building code
several times to improve accessibility. I'm going to speak for 20
minutes in a few minutes and I'll continue to enumerate all of
these things. But it's very important to note the long record
we've had and I think the member did highlight some of those
things, so I'll congratulate her on that.
Mr Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North): Not only does
this bill not meet the 11 principles that I think are the
standard by which we must judge a truly effective and meaningful
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, but the way the government has
gone about this process is also extremely unseemly. As I think
everyone in the Legislature knows and most people in Ontario
know, it has taken six and a half years to even get to this
point. There was a bill in 1999, I believe it was, Bill 83, which
was a pure embarrassment. It was a pure fiasco and had to be
withdrawn by the government. They have got to a point now where
they are, it appears, putting forward a bill that is somewhat of
an improvement over that piece of legislation, but still by no
means meets the standard we think a true Ontarians with
Disabilities Act should. What happens is that they then determine
they are going to rush this bill through the Legislature, which I
think is extremely unfortunate and extremely unkind.
The fact is that I have spoken to members of the disability
community in my riding of Thunder Bay-Superior North and they
have made a couple of things clear to me. They want to have an
opportunity to basically have public consultation. Yes, they
actually will be coming to Thunder Bay, and I want to let the
people in my community know that. I think it's Thursday, December
6. They want an opportunity to truly study this, to have an
opportunity not to be rushed into it.
The government is absolutely determined to push this legislation
through. They're actually going to do a time allocation motion,
which will force us to end debate on second reading. They will
then have the hearings, going out to a few communities in the
province, and by mid-December they are going to basically push
this through third reading. There will be no real opportunity to
put forward amendments. The Liberal opposition -- I'm sure all
three parties, but certainly the NDP as well -- will want to put
forward some amendments to the legislation. I can tell you for
sure that the disability community does as well. Yet they're
being forced to deal with this very truncated process, which I
think is insulting to the disability community. In other words,
six and a half years to get here and suddenly in three weeks
we're going to push this legislation through. I think that's
wrong; I think it's unfair.
The Acting Speaker: Response, the member for York North.
Mrs Munro: Thank you to the members for Hamilton East, Trinity-
Spadina, Niagara Falls and Thunder Bay-Superior North. In
listening to some of the comments that have been made, perhaps
there has been a misunderstanding about the fact that when the
minister undertook this, it was with the notion that it was
important to be able to do the consultations, because of the
complexity of the interests of the community, the recognition
that there were best practices within the province.
One of the things I think is a hallmark of this piece of
legislation is that it recognizes the need to bring everyone in a
community together to work on creating accessible communities,
that it isn't the work only of government or only of a particular
group, but rather is a reflection of our community as a whole in
its ability to be as fully accessible as possible. This
legislation, then, provides that kind of framework, where
everyone within the community understands and recognizes the role
and the opportunity they have to make their community the very
best it can be.
There are a number of communities across the province that have
provided those kinds of best practices and opportunities to look
at standards. That's what this piece of legislation is designed
to do: to make sure that in Ontario we have that ability to bring
everyone together to make sure that we create no new barriers and
that we work on eliminating the others.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): May 24, 1995: Mike
Harris promises in writing that within his first term of office
he will enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Promise made,
promise broken, promise not kept.
We saw a feeble attempt in December 1998 to introduce a
disabilities act, a sham of three pages of legislation introduced
by the minister of the time, Isabel Bassett. It was a joke. The
government recognized it was a joke. When the House prorogued,
that piece of legislation died on the order paper. The House,
though, continued to press for this legislation.
I want to thank my leader, Dalton McGuinty, who in June 1999,
soon after my election, called me up and named me as the critic
responsible for disabilities issues. I can tell you, at that
time, I had some prior experience dealing with individuals with
disabilities from my experience on municipal council. As I
started to delve into the issue and started to consult, I found
that there was a huge number of barriers facing persons with
disabilities in this province, barriers that this government in
no way was making any commitment to remove and, if anything, they
were making it more difficult for persons with disabilities to
live their day-to-day lives.
As we progressed and became further involved in dealing with
disabilities issues, on November 23, 1999 -- today is November 20
-- every one of us in this Legislature unanimously agreed to a
resolution that I put forward: that a strong and effective
Ontarians with Disabilities Act be enacted no later than November
Well, what we've got in front of us tonight is again a broken
promise by this government, because it's not a strong and
effective piece of legislation that we have in front of us. It's
a weak and ineffective piece of legislation, a piece of
legislation that, if this government had any guts, they should
withdraw, because the commitment that they should have made to
consult with the disabled community in the development of this
legislation was non-existent.
They hoodwinked the disabled community. The minister left many
impressions that this was legislation that the disabled community
was going to be able to get behind and support. This was a piece
of legislation that would incorporate the 11 principles -- again,
11 principles that were put forth in a resolution by my colleague
Dwight Duncan, that again were unanimously endorsed and supported
in this Legislature. Are those 11 principles included in this
legislation that we have in front of us this evening? No, they're
not. Only one of those 11 principles is in any way visible in
this legislation. Again, this government has abandoned the
It's very interesting. When I became the critic responsible for
disabled individuals in this province, the number that everyone
touted was 1.5 million persons living with a disability of some
sort in this province. Now that the government has introduced
this legislation, we're talking about 1.6 million people. So what
we've seen is that since this Mike Harris government has taken
office in 1995, we have another 100,000 persons in this province
with a disability and another 100,000 persons who have been
abandoned by this government.
We've got young children who weren't born when Mike Harris was
elected in 1995, when Mike Harris made that promise on May 24,
1995. May 24 is a day that I'll always remember because that's my
niece's birthday. My niece is growing up in this province right
now with a government that has shown no commitment to the
disabled community. I think that's a real shame.
One of the things that's touted in this legislation is the
creation of advisory councils. It's a joke, because this
government, like they did with a lot of things that they promised
to do in 1995, including passing this legislation, also made some
drastic cuts and changed the face of the way we do business in
this province. One of the things that they cut that they're
touting right now as part of this legislation is the advisory
councils. There was already a mechanism in place to advise the
government and work with the government in dealing with issues
facing persons with disabilities, but this government cut that
out in 1995. Shame on them.
I'm going to deal with some of the specifics of the legislation,
but do you want to know how committed this government is to full,
open consultations and accessible consultations? Well, they're
This government is more concerned about dealing with Bill 81,
which deals with the spreading of nutrients on agricultural land.
They gave Bill 81 nine hearings across this province -- province-
wide hearings. The Minister of Agriculture, to his credit, made
the commitment that individuals -- the farming and agricultural
community in this province -- would have input into the
development of the regulations. The government is prepared to do
that for the agricultural community, but this government is not
prepared to do it for the disabled community in this province. I
say shame on you, because that same commitment you made to the
agricultural community, you should be making to the disabled
community in this province, and you're not doing it. Shame on
It's interesting, we hear the members stand up and tout that
there's all kinds of wide-spread support for this legislation.
That's a joke too, because they were all hoodwinked. The various
groups thought, when the minister was out doing his
consultations, they firmly believed, "Finally. We've been through
Minister Bassett and she abandoned us, neglected us and didn't
bring anything forward. We went through Minister Johns. We
thought Minister Johns was going to do something, and nothing
happened." They looked to Minister Jackson. They thought Minister
Jackson was going to come to the table with a piece of
legislation that was going to deal with the issues that were
facing the disabled community in this province. But do you know
what? It didn't happen again.
They stand up and tout the March of Dimes's supporting this
legislation. The March of Dimes is certainly in its right to do
that. But what we're finding now is that there are organizations
all across this province that have recognized the sham that is
this piece of legislation, and organizations that aren't
supporting this legislation. The one that I would have hoped the
minister responsible for disabilities issues in this province
would have worked closely with is the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act Committee, ODAC, because this is the umbrella organization
that represents persons with disabilities in this province. Has
the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee endorsed this
legislation? No, they haven't, because they've seen what it is.
It's an empty shell of a piece of legislation, a piece of
legislation that is, once again, abandoning persons with
disabilities in this province.
As you start to delve into this legislation, this is where it
becomes really distressing. You can look back at Bill 26, I think
it was, that the government passed in the fall of 1995, maybe
1996. With that piece of legislation, Bill 26 gave various
ministers the ability, with a stroke of the pen, to change the
way things are done in this province. But you know what's
happening, and it's hilarious? This piece of legislation, Bill
125, that we've got in front of us this evening, talks very much
and very strongly about the government -- it talks about the
Speaker -- developing a plan for this building. It talks about
the government ensuring, for any new buildings that are built,
that the legislation is in place to ensure that they're built in
a barrier-free manner. That's a joke because, again, with a
stroke of the pen the Chair of Management Board and the Premier
of this province could delegate that. "Why put it in legislation?
Why not just do it?" They could do it and they're not doing it.
They're talking about barriers in the future, that we're going to
eliminate barriers in the future. We've had six years of this
government. What about all the barriers they've created in the
past six years? This piece of legislation does nothing to address
I think what's worse yet is the fact that this legislation
doesn't apply to the private sector. This is a piece of
legislation that's dealing with government agencies and
municipalities, hospitals and schools, but it doesn't deal with
the private sector. This government has this silly mentality:
they think that if this piece of legislation were enshrined with
forcing the private sector to do something, then it's going to
hurt the private sector. But what we've seen, and it can be
demonstrated, is that it would be a win-win situation for having
this legislation apply to the private sector. It's a win-win
situation because it would break down barriers for persons with
disabilities. More important, it would create new opportunities
for business to bring new individuals into their stores and into
A lot of times we think about legislation such as we have in
front of us tonight, and when we think about barriers, we think
about the disabled community. A lot of the barriers that are in
place out there right now don't just apply to the disabled
community. It could be a young mother going down the street with
her baby carriage who finds it extremely difficult to enter into
a building. If those barriers were removed, we would all win.
I'm glad the minister keeps this little book in his desk, because
I had an opportunity to tour the province in the spring of 2000
and visit a number of cities. We toured more than this government
likely will tour for their consultations with this legislation.
We went from Windsor to Thunder Bay to North Bay to Ottawa.
Let's talk about some things. I hope every one of your
constituency offices, including my own members' and the NDP
members', is accessible. If it's not, shame on you. Mine is. I
made sure that my office is accessible. I challenge any one of
you to go visit the Premier's office in North Bay and find out if
the Premier's office is accessible. You'll find that it's not.
You know how you get the ramp put down at the Premier's
constituency office in North Bay? You call ahead or you knock on
the window: "Knock, knock, knock, please put the ramp out."
Persons with disabilities don't want to be standing on the
outside, knocking on the window to try and get in. They want to
be able to get right in on their own. I hope that every one of
you will go back and look at your constituency office and make
sure it is accessible.
As we toured the province, we heard of a wide variety of
barriers. Barriers don't just exist in the physical barriers that
we all think of: the lack of access to a washroom, the lack of
access to a building. There are a number of other barriers out
there that need to be reviewed and looked at. Such things alone
as the Ontario disability support program -- this a program that
is in place to help persons with disabilities, but are all the
proper documents available for access in a wide range of formats?
Has the government ensured, like they've done in the past, that
when they hold a tribunal hearing, it's not held in an
inaccessible location? I certainly hope so.
Some of the other issues, other barriers that we face in this
province, include the Ontario building code. We've seen
legislation introduced with changes to the building code. We need
to ensure that there are no exemptions in the new building code
regulations. I believe that under section 11 of the existing
building code right now there are exemptions that exist. We can't
allow those exemptions to exist, not for government, not for the
private sector. Everybody should be doing their part to make
Education: there's a wide variety of barriers in education. I
would urge the minister to sit down with the Minister of
Education and look at what's happened: the cuts we've seen to
educational assistance, the barriers that exist in some of our
schools. I went back and toured my old high school. That building
is not accessible and that's a shame.
Transportation: there's a lot of talk in this legislation about
transportation. We all know that transportation is now the sole
responsibility of municipalities, that municipalities have to
pick up 100% of the cost. One issue that isn't addressed in this
legislation is rural Ontario. It's one thing to call the
paratransit here in Toronto three days in advance to get a ride,
but try living in Aylmer or in Massey and getting access to
transportation. It's non-existent.
When the legislation was introduced, we saw the great headline:
"$5,000 Fine for Parking in a Disabled Parking Spot." If you go
to the local mall, fire routes and disabled parking are not
enforced at malls. The only way that disabled parking spot
enforcement takes place, where a $5,000 fine could kick in at
your local mall, is if that local mall has appointed bylaw
enforcement officers and has entered into an agreement with the
municipality to enforce bylaws. So is this legislation going to
ensure that mall parking lots are freed up and that people aren't
abusing parking spots? No, it's not.
Another issue that we need to deal with in this, and the lack of
acknowledgement by this government, is the question of education,
employment and training. We need to do everything we can to help
individuals with a disability to ensure that they are
accommodated within their workplace, to ensure that if they are
on a disability pension and they make the decision to try and go
back to work, and if, for whatever reason, they can't perform
those tasks, they don't have to go back on welfare, that there's
an automatic reinstatement for those individuals to go back on
ODSP. Is that addressed in this legislation? No, it's not.
I think there are other issues too. There are a lot of
individuals in this province, numbers of individuals, who have
mental illness or invisible disabilities. Are their concerns
addressed in this legislation? No, they're not.
Let's deal with the question of consultation. We know that this
government is feeling the heat. They know that they made a
promise on May 24, 1995. They know that promise wasn't fulfilled
in Isabel Bassett's Bill 83 and that it's a promise that has not
been fulfilled in this legislation we have in front of us this
evening. But are they going to do the proper consultation to
ensure that everybody has an opportunity to have some input into
this legislation? No, they're not. They're going to do a small
number of cities. They're not going to London. I represent
London. There are four other representatives from London. There's
a large disabled community in London, a very active local
disabled community. But is this government going to London for
its hearings? No, they're not. They don't care. I think that's a
Is this a piece of legislation that they're going to ensure is
right, that they get it right the first time? No, they're not.
They're going to ram it through. This House is going to rise
either December 13 or December 20, and we're going to see it
disappear, see this legislation passed, forced through, rammed
through without the proper consultation. It's a real shame.
The minister likes to make the comment, "They didn't recommend in
the members' disability tour support of a strong and effective
Ontarians with Disabilities Act." Page 1: "We've heard loud and
clearly Ontario needs effective and comprehensive legislation."
This was what we heard when we toured around the province, and
that's what was included in this legislation.
I had hoped that the minister -- and I know he looked at this
report and I appreciate that -- would have used this, that he
would have used the 11 principles, that he would have recognized
that a resolution was passed for strong and effective legislation
no later than November 23, 2001. It didn't happen. Instead of a
strong and effective piece of legislation, we have a weak and
ineffective piece of legislation. I truly hoped that this was an
issue that we could have all -- I would have loved, as we have
endorsed unanimously various resolutions in the House, if all 103
of us would have been able to stand up and endorse this
legislation unanimously. You know, it's not possible. It's a sad
day for Ontario and a sad day for persons with disabilities in
The Acting Speaker: Questions, comments?
Mr Marchese: I just want to congratulate the member for
Elgin-Middlesex-London for properly identifying the problems and
relating to and expressing the disillusionment of people with
disabilities as it relates to this particular bill. He mentioned
something very dramatic. I believe he said it was Mike Harris's
office that --
Mr Peters: Not accessible. Go to North Bay.
Mr Marchese: He points out that his office is not accessible and
that people have to knock on the window and say, "Please let me
in," assuming that somebody is accompanying the individual,
because if you have a mobility disability, it may be even hard to
reach the window possibly, but not entirely. The whole idea of
having to knock on the door to be let in, without which they
cannot enter, it's as if you have to plead before you can enter.
Somebody has to come out to put an accessibility walkway for the
person with the disability to get in. It's nuts. And this is the
Premier of Ontario.
You could understand perhaps some other members. Maybe they
haven't been able to find a location where they can have an
accessible office. Ten years ago -- 10 years ago, as soon as I
got my office -- I made sure we had a ramp. If you people don't
have one, you should be asking yourselves why. You're not leading
by not having an accessible office.
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre): Do you know why? Because I go
Mr Marchese: Joe, that's a good one. He goes to them. No, they
want to come to you. I'm convinced you don't go to them. You
might go to some. But you need an office that's accessible, and
that's one of the points he has made, including so many other
points. But the Premier ought to look at that problem before he
leaves his office, because it is shameful.
Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister of Citizenship, minister
responsible for seniors): I'd like, just in passing, to mention
to the member for Trinity-Spadina that if he's that keen, he
should have stood in the House and said that he has a TTY machine
in his office. I know he doesn't. But if he really is that
sincere, maybe he might consider that, making those services
available to his constituents.
More importantly, I want to respond to the member for
Elgin-Middlesex-London. I've come to appreciate that this
individual is a hard-working individual who understands the
issues of the disability community, and I share with him the
disappointment that his Liberal consultation tour report
enunciated all the problems. We do not need any additional effort
on enunciating the problems. What we need in this province are
regulations and guidelines that will guide the rules of conduct
for public and private businesses across this province, something
that's been sadly lacking in this province, something that the
federal government refuses to provide. As I've said on many
occasions, you can win a case with the human rights tribunal only
to lose it because there are no guidelines in this province or
this country that can be upheld in a court of law. This
legislation will do that.
The member opposite never once made a reference to the bill. But
I will suggest to him that there is growing concern that the
Liberal Party earlier today, their critic, the member for Prince
Edward-Hastings, formally stated to the media that it is your
party's intention not to support this legislation. You made that
decision before you participated in the public consultation. You
prejudiced and prejudged this legislation on behalf of the
disabled community and expressed an unwillingness to work to find
resolutions. It was your own member Dwight Duncan who suggested
that we get this legislation passed by November 23. We're
extending the consultation period a further three-plus weeks in
order to ensure that the disabled community has an --
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Questions and comments.
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'd like to commend the member for
Elgin-Middlesex-London for a very fair analysis of the bill. I
disagree with the minister. I thought the member concentrated
totally on the bill and showed the inadequacies of the bill.
I would suggest to you that the disabled community at large is
not very supportive of this legislation. In fact, they are quite
concerned about the legislation. They understand that the 11
principles that this House unanimously passed are not included in
the bill; only one of the principles is included.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Steve Peters, to thank
Dwight Duncan, to thank Ernie Parsons and to thank Dalton
McGuinty for the effort they've shown in trying to advise the
government on how to do it the right way. The government, though,
in its mindset, refuses to listen.
We can banter back and forth here in a partisan political way,
but I want to take the last 49 seconds to mention an individual
who tragically passed away last week. His name is Frank Marsh. He
was the president of Cambrian College. The minister was supposed
to come up and do a presentation and rightfully chose not to
because of the death. We in Sudbury appreciate that.
But I have to tell you that two nights before he died, we talked
about various bills. One of them was the colleges act. The second
one was the disabilities act, and he articulated his personal
concerns about the act extremely well. I would suggest to you
that it would be very appropriate for this government to ensure
that they listen to what the opposition is saying.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I also thought the remarks
of the member were most appropriate. I should share with members
of the House, because Mr Peters himself is going to be too modest
to talk about the significant role that he played, that he
visited the city of St Catharines and listened with a good deal
of interest as people gathered from across the Niagara Peninsula
to make representations in regard to the problems that are
encountered by disabled people in our province and what they
believed would be some of the parts they would like to see in a
piece of legislation that would finally pass in this House. They
had hoped it would be unanimous.
They were very clear in sharing with Mr Peters; I had an
opportunity to sit in on the hearings on that day. With his
particular public forum, we had that opportunity for disabled
people to make those representations. There were a lot of things
that came forward that you wouldn't normally think would have
been problems; that is, the general public would not have
recognized those as problems. I thought that's why it was
particularly useful. They had an opportunity to make those
Some were disabled as a result of accidents that had happened in
the workplace or elsewhere, some had a disability from birth, and
some were disabled as a result of disease of some kind. Each one
brought a different perspective to that public forum. I know in
his speech this evening, Mr Peters has shared with the House some
of the observations which were made to him and some of the
conclusions which were reached at those meetings.
So I want to take this opportunity to thank Steve Peters for the
work that he did. I know that other members of the House have as
well, but he was the speaker tonight, and I want to thank him for
The Acting Speaker: Response?
Mr Peters: I want to thank the member from Trinity-Spadina,
because the symbol for leadership in this province is the
Premier. When the symbol for leadership doesn't show that
commitment to the disabled community, either in ensuring the
legislation is put in place or ensuring that his office is
accessible, I think that sends a very clear message to the
disabled community in this province.
I want to comment on the member for Burlington, the minister. He
talked about TTY machines and not having them in our offices. Why
doesn't the minister advocate so that every one of us could have
a TTY in our offices? Why doesn't the minister advocate that
there's proper funding given to us for our constituency offices
to make our constituency offices accessible? Because you know
what? When I had to make my constituency office barrier-free, I
had to take that out of my global budget. Make that commitment,
You talk about making a decision before the consultations have
taken place. You know what, Minister? You have made the decision.
You have made the decision before the consultations have taken
place that this bill is right, and that's wrong.
I want to thank the member for Sudbury, because his is a
community that has shown a commitment. You should go and tour
Cambrian College. Go have a look at what they've done at Cambrian
College and the programs that they've implemented in that college
and the efforts that they've made to make it barrier-free at
minimal cost; less than 1% additional cost to make that a
barrier-free facility. I commend Cambrian College for what they
I want to thank the member for St Catharines, too, for his
There are so many areas where this government has continued to
abandon the disabled community dealing with health care. Has this
government implemented the Eldridge decision? The Eldridge
decision in British Columbia guaranteed that persons deaf or hard
of hearing would have access to medical care and access to an ASL
interpreter. Has that happened? No.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate.
Mr Marchese: I welcome the viewers of Ontario who regularly watch
this political channel. I said the other day that they have a
special obligation. Because they are keen in knowing what we do
in this place, we expect that they will become a little more
politically active than the rest who are not watching what we're
doing. So I welcome you this evening as we debate the Minister of
Citizenship's bill around the Ontarians with Disabilities Act,
Mr Bill Murdoch (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound): Mr Jackson.
Mr Marchese: "The minister," because when I use their names the
Speaker of the House says you can't use names in this place -- if
that's OK with you, Cam.
I want to take off from where the member from Elgin-Middlesex
started and just remind the Ontarians watching that the Premier,
yes, has a ramp but you've got to knock on his window to get in.
Mr Marchese: I know Billy the maverick doesn't like what I'm
saying, or he's just being contrary. I don't know.
But for the Premier of this province not to have a ramp and that
you've got to knock to get in doesn't sound right, does it? He's
got a whole lot of money. He's the Premier, for God's sake.
Usually Premiers lead. In this particular issue, who would you
expect to lead the province except the Premier of Ontario?
Mr Murdoch: Have you been in his office?
Mr Marchese: Billy, I'm just saying that I'm taking off from
where the member from Elgin-Middlesex -- and I trust the member
Mr Murdoch: But you have not been in his office?
Mr Marchese: I personally have not been in his office. But if
Bill the maverick is saying that I haven't been there and he has,
and he knows that the Premier has a ramp, why doesn't he tell me
he's got a ramp? Clearly, Bill Murdoch hasn't been there;
otherwise, he would have said, "Marchese, he's got a ramp." All
he's saying is, "Marchese, have you been there?" No, I haven't.
Mr Murdoch: No.
Mr Marchese: You haven't either. Well, don't say anything if you
don't know anything. I trust the member from Elgin-Middlesex when
he says when people with disabilities go to the office of the
Premier, they've got to knock and someone comes out. I don't know
how they do it, but presumably someone comes out and they bring
the ramp. Because if the ramp is wood, it's heavy, or if it's
metal, it's heavier, I'm assuming the Premier has more than one
staff who are able-bodied and are able to bring the ramp out when
someone knocks, "Please let me in. We want to come in and talk to
Mr Christopherson: It's easier in the snow.
Mr Marchese: You think? If there's snow, it would be complicated
for the staff. I don't know who the staff are; I hope they're
able-bodied. If there is snow and lots of it, I think it's hard
to lay it, but presumably they shovel it neatly and nicely so
that they could put out the ramp. But I envision problems.
Cam, what do you think? I don't know. Let me know. I'm just
sharing this with you and I'm actually sharing it with the
Ontarians here. I think they're probably amused by this subject,
because when the member from York North says, "We are moving
dramatically," I wonder how dramatically they're moving. I don't
think they've moved dramatically. They have moved dramatically
slow; this is true. It took them six years since you got elected,
and said, "We're going to bring in Ontarians with Disabilities
Act" -- six long, painful, slow years -- to listen to people with
disabilities, only to bring in a bill that the member from York
North says, "We've moved dramatically."
People with disabilities are saying, "Hold it a moment. What have
you moved to?" Where have you moved to, only to be introducing a
bill where people with disabilities are saying "Billy, there's
nothing in this bill"? I wonder what Murdoch is saying to those
people when they're saying, "We don't see a bill here that
addresses all those years of complaints that we've had against
your government, who promised in 1995 to bring an Ontarians with
Disabilities Act -- 1995." Do you recall how fast they moved to
repeal the Employment Equity Act that we had introduced? Do you
remember how fast they moved? And do you remember Mr Stockwell at
this end of the room -- somewhere around where you are, David --
screaming every day, with bulging eyes, saying, "We need to
repeal this bill"? He didn't call it the employment equity bill.
Do you remember what he called it? The "quota bill," he would
say, with his eyes popping out, reminding Ontarians that this
bill is something scary to behold. When they got into power, they
wasted no time in repealing the employment equity bill, which
would have brought some fairness to people with disabilities
after they had fought so long for some fairness to get into the
workplaces, not just in terms of accessibility but to be able to
be employed by those workplaces. We said, "We will establish
targets so that those employers and those workplaces will reflect
the community we have in Ontario." Private employers were obliged
to comply with targets, which Stockwell and others called the
quota bill, as if to suggest, "The aliens are coming." They
repealed it in a matter of weeks, as soon as they got elected.
You have the minister et al saying, "We've moved dramatically.
This is visionary. Never has any other political party done so
much for people with disabilities as Cam Jackson, the Minister of
Citizenship." Honest to God. They repealed the only thing about
which they could have said they were building on. If they had
kept the employment equity bill, they could have said, "We're
building on what you started." But no, they killed it, and then
they have the nerve and the fortitude to come into this place
saying, "We have done so much." After six years of listening to
people, they're going to listen some more, because that's what
this bill is all about. They're going to keep listening to people
with disabilities. It's pitiful. You guys are truly remarkably
They're gong to have hearings in four cities. David, I don't know
how you guys can sit there and just think it's OK. You're going
to have hearings while we're in session, four days on a bill that
presumably you're so proud of -- four days.
Hon Mr Jackson: It's six days.
Mr Marchese: Oh, six. OK, six. Four cities?
Hon Mr Jackson: Five cities.
Mr Marchese: Oh, it's five cities. I thought it was four. That's
good -- an extra day. Beautiful. And an extra day for clause-by-
clause, presumably, right?
Hon Mr Jackson: Two.
Mr Marchese: Two days? Wow. Two days for clause-by-clause.
That'll make some changes. With a committee that constantly
rejects any suggestions the opposition has to make, two days is
great. I suggest you put that extra day in the cities out there
so people can come and tell you what they feel, and not give us
two days of clause-by-clause where you will reject all the
amendments that will be proposed by the opposition. Give the
people with disabilities more time. You know what, Cam? I say to
you, Minister, if you're really so proud --
Mr Marchese: Billy, quiet now. You're just loud now.
Give the people a chance to tell you what they think if you're so
proud, because you moved so dramatically. Give the public an
opportunity to come to you. By the way, perhaps you should think
about how to provide for people who might have a difficult time
coming to your meetings. While it is true that in Toronto it
might be easier than in some other places, Billy, in your part of
the world it will probably be very tough to get to. I suggest you
go talk to Cam -- he's right there -- and say, "Cam, when we have
meetings in the vicinity my community might be close to, if
people from my community want to get to those committees, are you
going to provide for assistance? Will you tell them they can go
and, `By the way, don't you worry. We will provide all the
necessary assistance you will need to get there so you can tell
us what you think about this bill'?" Bill has stopped listening
That's what I would do. I would, if I were the minister and proud
of this bill, not rush it through now, during the session, with
the four days that now Cam Jackson says is five days, but rather
during the intersession when we're free and we've got time. We
could spend all of January to make sure that everyone across
Ontario has an opportunity to tell you what they think, if you're
proud of it. If I were proud of something, man, would I give a
whole lot of time. Your government has wasted no effort, when
they thought a bill was popular, to make sure it was out there
for weeks and weeks and weeks. When it's unpopular, you give us a
day, you give the opposition a day, when you realize there's a
bill you've presented that people don't like. When you like it,
you go on for weeks, you consult for weeks. So we've got a
problem in terms of consultation.
We've got so may problems with this bill. One other aspect of the
bill says that "the reform of the Social Housing Act will ensure
that any future social housing is fully accessible." That's cute,
because it says that any future social housing that is built must
be accessible. Isn't that cute? They haven't built any affordable
housing. There is no social housing to be seen anywhere in this
province. There are only condominiums, not accessible to people
with disabilities, I don't think. I don't believe people with
disabilities can afford the condominiums that are at the bottom
of my riding here by the lake, at Queen's Quay. They're very
expensive, those condos, you understand. I'm sure there are
people with disabilities who might be wealthy, who might have
inherited some wealth, possibly, but I suspect the majority of
people haven't had employment opportunities that employment
equity that we introduced as NDPers would have given them. I
don't believe they have a lot of deep pockets to be able to get
to those condominiums, and I'm not quite sure those condominiums
are built for persons with disabilities.
So what's left? Social housing. Who's building social housing? No
one. They're going to make future social housing accessible,
except there is none, and it's not likely to be built by them.
And the private sector, which Billy promised would build it, and
Cam Jackson and the former Minister of Housing, M. Leach -- he's
gone, mercifully, but he said, "When we change the Rent Control
Act and bring in the Tenant Protection Act, we will have 10,000
units being built by the private sector." He meant 10,000 social
housing units -- 10,000 units. Speaker, I know you're a patient
man, but have you seen any --
Mr Marchese: What are you talking about, Billy? Follow with me,
stay with me. Don't ramble somewhere else. Stay with me. I want
you to interrupt me with the flow of my speech, not take me to
some other tangent that has no meaning. Please work with me.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound would
recognize that the member for Trinity-Spadina has the floor and
that only one speaker at a time is permitted.
Mr Marchese: Thank you, Speaker. I like intelligent
interventions, even dumb ones from time to time, I do, but I like
interventions that relate to what I'm saying, because otherwise
he'll distract me into all sorts of things. I don't mind that
from time to time, but I don't have enough time. I've got seven
minutes left. Billy, please.
In terms of social housing, that was very good, Cam. You're now
forcing all new development that the former Minister of Housing,
Mr Clement, was going to be able to build -- he wasn't able to
because he was moved to another portfolio, but hopefully some
minister will come in the next little while who will build social
housing, and we'll have it accessible. God bless you.
Moving on to other issues, this government has also been generous
enough to download the responsibility for accessibility, for
barrier-free workplaces, to the cities, the municipalities,
universities and colleges, boards of education. They all will
have to draw up plans, and that's the extent of it. As far as I
know, there are no timelines, no enforcement mechanisms, no
obligations on these institutions to provide barrier-free
workplaces, none. But to download the responsibility to
municipalities -- they've been broken and are broke because of
the policies this government has instituted in terms of
downloading so many social responsibilities on the cities, whose
sole revenue source is property taxes. How can you obligate
municipalities to come up with plans? Presumably, once they've
done so, hopefully they've got money to create barrier-free
workplaces. If some municipalities do, it's wonderful that they
create plans and move toward creating barrier-free workplaces.
But some won't have the money, so what we'll have is uneven
development across Ontario. Some cities might have the money to
be able to provide ramps or barrier-free workplaces. Colleges and
universities certainly don't have the money. Maybe some will have
the money to be able to create barrier-free workplaces, but I'm
not convinced they're going to have the money. So isn't it
wonderful for Cam Jackson, the minister, to download this
responsibility to those institutions without giving them the
money it takes to make sure those things get done?
Apart from that, there are no mechanisms for timelines in terms
of how fast you want to see that done and certainly no
enforcement mechanisms. Finally, as I indicated earlier, there's
You have created guidelines which have no power unto themselves
because we don't know whether they will get into regulations and
we don't know whether they will be obligatory; at any rate we
don't think they will. We have the creation through this bill of
accessibility councils that have no power. They will be powerless
to do anything. We have the municipalities creating accessibility
plans, but as I say, that's about the extent of it. There's no
mechanism to ensure that happens because there's no money.
We certainly have some good things this bill has proposed. What
are they? Well, they'll increase the fines for those who park in
the space that is for the person with a disability. Isn't that
great? That's big, Cam. That's a good thing. You're going to
increase the fines for someone who takes a space that properly
belongs to a person with a disability. Oh, amen, that's moving
dramatically. That's good.
Mr Murdoch: Are you happy?
Mr Marchese: Yes, well, listen, I had to talk about something
that's good about the bill. The other good measure, as I
understand it, is that you have changed the Human Rights Code,
David, to remove the language that was a bit outdated and rather
negative in content, and that is that they used to be referred to
as handicapped individuals That term has been obliterated by the
new bill that has been presented here, with the modernized
language, much more progressive language that refers to people
with disabilities as such, people with disabilities; less
negative, obviously, a term that people have obviously come to
agree on. You did that. Good for you. Thank God that at least
you've brought in some measures that some people are going to
agree with you on.
But there's so much in this bill that people with disabilities
are telling you that it's a weak bill. After six years, it's a
weak bill. They were hoping for so much more; so was I. So were
all New Democrats, hoping for so much more, because you promised,
after six years, you would introduce something that everybody
would be so happy with.
Those in the private sector have no obligation to provide
barrier-free workplaces. How could you introduce a bill that
doesn't touch the private sector? I know it reflects your
ideology. Oh, I know you folks have no ideology, especially once
Ernie has come back, because Ernie said, "I'm neither left nor
right. I'm just a fiscal conservative with a big heart." We'll
see how big his heart is going to be when he comes back, because
when you people start taking $5 billion dollars away from
everything from education to social services to environment to
labour to natural resources, when five billion bucks gets taken
away, I want to see how big Ernie's heart is going to be. I think
it's going to shrink awfully fast when he comes back.
Mr Murdoch: He may not get back. He may not get to do that.
Mr Marchese: No, but I suspect Ernie will do well, God bless him.
But if Clement gets elected -- there's Tony. Tony says, "No, we
haven't done enough of radical cutbacks in income taxes. We've
got to do more." Tony, I couldn't believe you. You've got to cut
$5 billion and you want more income taxes cut so you can cut more
services by yet another $5 billion? Tony, please.
Mr Marchese: The guy from Niagara Falls is going to speak next. I
always like it when -- you've got to speak before I do so I have
something to talk to you about.
This bill is unacceptable to people with disabilities, by and
large. They think you can reform this. I don't believe it,
because you won't accept the changes that we will recommend. So I
think it's a bad bill that needs to be defeated.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael Gravelle): Questions or comments?
Hon Mr Jackson: I want to acknowledge my colleague from Trinity-
Spadina. He's always filled with colourful language, and tonight
was no exception. I was fascinated by his comments. I had hoped
that he would perhaps have had a more thoughtful examination of
the legislation and, for people watching tonight, an opportunity
to actually reference sections.
He said it doesn't include the private sector, and yet he knows
that it includes private sector transit operators. He knows it
gives the government regulatory authority through the access
council, something that will be predominated by persons with
disabilities, something that even the ADA doesn't do and no other
jurisdiction in North America does. This opportunity is rather
unique in Ontario, for the disabilities community to set the
regulations for the private sector. But the fact is we have no
guidelines in this province to establish what the thresholds,
what the standards should be for accessibility, whether it's in
employment, whether it's in education or whether it's in
accessibility, and we have much work to do in order to get this
He made reference to his government and party. I have a copy of
Bill 168, the equal access to post-secondary education,
transportation and other services and facilities for persons with
disabilities, something his colleague Gary Malkowski presented.
You know, they had an access committee under the NDP; it met once
a year. And you know what they said? "You can't discuss Bill 168,
because that's from a government member and it's not government
policy, and therefore we don't want you discussing it."
In fact, this legislation before the House today goes further
than anything that was even tabled by the NDP in the past history
of this province. You chalked up a $50-billion deficit in this
province and didn't do one thing for the disabled community.
Mr John C. Cleary (Stormont-Dundas-Charlottenburgh): This is a
very important issue. I can remember, back in the 1980s when
there was a different government in power, we did everything
humanly possible at that time to get disabled people on the job,
where they could work and make a living like anyone else. For my
constituency office, I looked high and low to get a location
where wheelchairs and people with crutches and everything could
get in, at ground level, and I know they really appreciate that.
I just want to tell you another little story about what happened
to me on Sunday. A gentleman used to be an OPP officer and is
retired now, and they just took his second leg off at the Ottawa
Civic Hospital, where he is right now. He was always active,
driving his van -- he had it equipped and everything -- and he
wanted to be part of the community, driving other people who he
thought were worse off than him. Government has got a big role to
play there, getting him back on the job and getting him working,
and that's what he wants to do.
I've been involved in my lifetime in many lifts and many
different types of buildings over the years to get accessibility
for wheelchairs. In our community there's a lot of that, but
they're having a difficult time now to find the funds to do that.
I don't think you realize how serious it is until you're in those
people's position. They can't get around and they have to have a
family member take them, and most times family members are
working on the job. It's very difficult.
Anyway, I hope cooler heads will prevail here and all parties
will work together and will come up with something that will be
suitable for our less fortunate. It could happen to any one of us
at any minute.
Mr Christopherson: Let me say at the outset that there really
can't be any doubt about the oration skills of my colleague from
Trinity-Spadina. I think that's evidenced by the fact that even
members of the government were applauding, I suspect not so much
content but certainly delivery and a respect for talent when you
see talent. My colleague is without doubt one of the most
fascinating speakers in this place, and it's always a delight to
listen to him.
If you'll allow me, Speaker, I want to take a little bit of
exception to some of the comments the minister made about the
remarks of my colleague. He first of all seems to refuse to
accept the fact that in 1995 -- guess what, Minister? You won.
Take yes for an answer. Arguing the 1995 election over again does
absolutely nothing for the disabled. It might make you feel
better, but it does nothing. And not only that, you're wrong.
You're wrong when you say we did nothing for the disabled.
One of the things my colleague from Trinity-Spadina talked about
was the fact that you've now changed the social housing act to
require that they have to be accessible, and as he pointed out,
you aren't building any. You haven't built one, not one, since
you came to power over half a decade ago. We built close to
50,000, and among those 50,000 were dedicated units where, as we
speak right now, this very instant, there are individuals who can
live a life of dignity.
Mr Christopherson: There are people who live a life of dignity
because we honoured a commitment to build social housing and in
there we provided for accessibility. For all your taking pride in
heckling, that's not doing anything for the disabled either, just
like this bill.
Mr Maves: I just want to quickly say on the member opposite's
comments that the Minister of Citizenship is right. I also have a
copy of the same bill brought in, the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act, 1994. It was brought in by the NDP government at the time,
received first reading, which is just basically being introduced
into the House, and never again saw the light of day. Debate
tonight is on an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They had five
years to bring one in and never did. One was introduced by one of
their own members but wasn't given the light of day, so the
Minister of Citizenship is right about that.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Trinity-Spadina has two
minutes to respond.
Mr Marchese: I thank my friend from Hamilton West, and then I
want to respond to the other two Tories.
Mr Marchese: Yes, John commented on something else.
The member from Niagara Falls is the biggest booster of this
government. He's always up there with that nice voice, calm and
very reassuring, almost like David Johnson, the former minister
who was here, very reassuring. He said in the 30 seconds he
spoke, "What did the NDP government do when they were in
government? They did nothing." We talk about the employment
equity bill. He doesn't know because he wasn't here, I guess. But
Cam knows; Cam was here. We introduced an employment equity bill
that would bring fairness to people with disabilities.
The member from Niagara Falls said, "What did the NDP do? They
had five years." In five years we did the Employment Equity Act.
In a couple of weeks, the Tories got rid of it. They just axed
it. It was very easy. They just said no to the quota bill. Do you
remember that, Billy? The member from Niagara Falls should learn
about these things. I know you're so reassuring to the public
that listens to you about how great you folks are.
The Minister of Citizenship, with respect to the content of the
bill, said the private sector is included. Oh? Point that out to
me, because they are excluded. Then he said they created advisory
councils that will have people with disabilities on it. Oh? What
power do these advisory councils have? Will they be able to
obligate cities, municipalities, colleges and universities to
actually do the plans they are obliged to do? No. The member said
that we had access committees in the past and what did we do? We
did nothing. We had the employment equity bill and they killed
Minister, I tell you, you've got to reform this bill if you want
the support of the NDP. Otherwise, it's a dead bill.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Maves: It's a pleasure to stand and rise and contribute to the
debate on Bill 125. Before I get into my own remarks, I do want
to respond to some of the remarks of the member for Elgin-
Middlesex-London. When he did his speech, I unfortunately didn't
have an opportunity to do a response. One of the things -- I
sincerely hope that Mr Peters, the member from Elgin-Middlesex-
London, returns to the Legislature at some point this evening and
apologizes for the insult he delivered to the disabled people in
Ontario. When he stands in his place and says that disabled
people in Ontario were hoodwinked by this government, he insults
them. He says, very paternalistically, very arrogantly, that
those people can't think for themselves. I think that is an
ultimate insult. I hope that Mr Peters really didn't mean that
and I hope he can come back and retract that statement. It was
shocking that he would use that language to talk about the
disabled community in this province.
Second, that same member claimed, when he spoke, that no member
of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee supported this
legislation. That is a falsehood. How do I know this? Well,
here's a quote from Dean LaBute of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act Committee: "I believe in moving forward with
purpose and working together to reach a common end. The proposed
Ontarians with Disabilities Act incorporates this philosophy and
offers a level of commitment that is unprecedented in Canada. I
believe that, working with all levels of government in every
sector, we will effect change and move steadily toward achieving
a barrier-free society in Ontario. This will enable Ontarians
with disabilities to participate in all aspects of community life
to the best of their individual abilities." That's an endorsement
from a member of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.
The member opposite was wrong to say what he said.
Third, I say to the member opposite, the NDP government through
1990 to 1995 did not enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
They had one of their own members introduce it, but they didn't
even let it come back to the House beyond first reading. We also
know that between 1985 and 1990 the Liberals, who governed
Ontario, did not introduce an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
They didn't even talk about it. Between 1990 and 1995, when the
Liberal Party was in opposition, they could have taken the
Americans with Disabilities Act, which they purport to support,
changed the title and introduced it in this Legislature as a
private member's bill. Did they do that? No. Never once did they
do that between 1990 and 1995. In 1995 to 1999, again they had an
opportunity. Both parties opposite had an opportunity. If they
believe so much that we should have an Americans with
Disabilities Act here in Ontario, all they had to do was get that
bill, make sure it complied with the way we write our bills here
in Ontario, change the name and introduce it in this Legislature.
Did they do that? No, they did not.
We move now to the next government, the current government,
1999-2001. Have the Liberals done that yet? No. They've brought a
resolution into this House which was endorsed unanimously. They
could have brought in a private member's bill. I've just gone
through 16 years of government: five years when they were the
government, 11 years when they had an opportunity. Just change
the title and introduce it. They never did it. Not only that, but
Mr Peters from Elgin-Middlesex-London -- and the members in his
party talked about how he went out and toured and consulted with
the disabled community. Good for him. That was excellent. He
wrote a report. Do you know, if you read that report, they didn't
make one recommendation? Not one. They weren't willing to make
one solid recommendation. What did they say about the Americans
with Disabilities Act? Did they commit in that document that that
was what they were going to introduce? No.
The NDP and the Tories are often at opposite sides of the
spectrum in the Legislature. We take a position and they take one
that's totally opposite. They've jumped around on tax cuts
recently, but for the most part we have opposite views. But we
take a stand. We take a position. The Liberals are refusing to
take a position once again. This history just continues with
them. I wish Mr Peters in his report had made a recommendation,
had said, "This is Liberal policy. We keep talking about the
Americans with Disabilities Act. That's our policy." Introduce it
in the House. It gets frustrating for us on this side of the
The other thing I have to say about the Liberal Party opposite is
that not only did they insult, in my view, with a very
paternalistic and arrogant statement some of the people in the
disabled community who have said they support this bill, but I
think they insulted taxpayers. There are quotes from Mr Parsons,
Mr Peters and several people on the opposite side saying we've
done nothing for the disabled community, that we've turned our
backs on the disabled community over six and a half years.
One thing that we as a Conservative government believe in is that
we don't have money. There's only the taxpayers' money. We spend
taxpayers' money. If you're going to say that we do nothing,
you're basically saying that taxpayers do nothing for the
disabled in Ontario. That is an insult to the taxpayers of
Ontario, because you know what? They reach into their pockets
year after year and spend more than $6 billion annually to help
the disabled in Ontario. For them to insult taxpayers and say,
"You don't do anything for the disabled in the province of
Ontario," to say to taxpayers, "You all turn your backs on the
disabled in this community," is an insult. It is another one that
I think they should apologize for.
I want to expand a little bit on this. Bill Adair from the
Canadian Paraplegic Association said, in a letter to Minister
Jackson dated November 9, 2001, with regard to this bill -- now
listen carefully please, Speaker, and the members opposite -- "We
view the introduction of this bill as a continuation of your past
record of increasing support for people with disabilities in
Ontario." That's right.
I can go through every ministry. I can go through the Ministry of
Citizenship and give you a litany of programs that this
government has introduced, continued and expanded over the years.
I can do it with the Ministry of Community and Social Services
and the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance. The
bottom line is that we spend over $6 billion annually to help
people with disabilities in Ontario. Let me just talk about a
few. First of all, with the Ministry of Community and Social
Services, where I was once a parliamentary assistant, we
campaigned in 1995 to take people with permanent disabilities out
of the welfare system to give them their own system with richer
benefits and different rules and regulations. We did that in
1995. We kept that promise to them. The ODSP is a separate
program from Ontario Works and is a better program for those
When I was at the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the
minister, John Baird, had a great deal of interest in adults with
developmental disabilities. He went out on the road all across
Ontario and met with community living associations, with adults
with developmental disabilities and with the parents of adults
with developmental disabilities, and he has expanded greatly our
investment in that area. He sent me out one summer to do a 15-
city tour to consult with people in the developmental
disabilities community. We continued the program of getting rid
of institutions in Ontario. We are down to three institutions
where adults with developmental disabilities reside. We moved
them all into the community living sector. That is something that
was started by the NDP. We agreed with that. We continued it.
That cost money. On behalf of the taxpayers of Ontario, that was
a better way of life for those folks. We agreed. We continued
that. The taxpayers of Ontario did.
I remember meeting with one fellow who had been in an institution
since he was a youngster. He'd been there 15 years. He left the
institution. He moved into a community living facility. At that
point in time he had two full-time jobs.
Mr Maves: No, he was in his 30s. He had two full-time jobs and
was about to get married. His wish to me was, "I'd like to see
some more of my friends who are in the institution out of the
institution and into community living." We're doing that.
The ministry is putting an additional $55 million this year,
growing to $197 million annually, into revitalizing developmental
services, improving respite services, improving wages for
community living and providing more spaces for these folks.
There's a $2-million partnership between community and social
services and the Ontario March of Dimes to financially assist
adults with physical disabilities to modify their homes and
vehicles to enhance independent living and mobility. With the
social contract under the NDP, children's treatment centres as
well as children's mental health facilities had expenditures
reduced. When we came in in 1995 we ended the social contract. We
ended it for teachers. We ended it for everyone in the public
sector with the exception of MPPs. For kids with spina bifida,
with autism, with severe disabilities in these children's
treatment centres around Ontario, we ended the social contract
and we gave them their first large increase in funding in many
In the most recent budget, the Minister of Finance added a $20-
million increase in the budgets of the children's treatment
centres. This is a major accomplishment, something they worked
hard for. Mr Bradley, Mr Kormos and myself visited the children's
treatment centre in Niagara and listened to their request. I
brought if forward to the finance minister and he acted on it.
What are some of the other programs in other ministries? The
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ontario
building code: over the last six years we've made improvements to
the Ontario building code that made lives better for folks with
disabilities. At the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the
ministry I'm currently involved in as parliamentary assistant, we
continue to have the assistive devices program, which helps
Ontario residents with long-term disabilities to pay for devices
such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, and vision and communication
aids. The 1999-2000 budget for this program alone was $98
million. That's not my money; that's taxpayer's money. They spend
a lot of money assisting their fellow Ontarians, those with
Brian's Law is another mental health reform we brought in. These
changes, with Brian's Law, will permit community treatment orders
to be issued for persons with serious mental illnesses who pose a
danger to themselves or others, something the community asked for
for many years. This is something Mr Patten, across the way with
the Liberals, wanted to see. We brought that in. Last year $15.8
million in new funding was provided to help implement community
care treatment options under Brian's Law, another financial
investment the members opposite don't want to talk about.
The ministry has put millions of dollars into supportive housing
for persons with disabilities, and early screening for infants
with hearing problems and pre-school speech and language
There are a lot of things in the Ministry of Health. The Ministry
of Training, Colleges and Universities last year provided $4
million to train qualified assessors to test and identify
learning disabilities in young francophones. In 1997 it allocated
$30 million over five years to four pilot projects to help
students with learning disabilities make the transition from high
school to post-secondary education.
Last year the Ministry of Education announced a $155-million
increase in special-education funding for services for students
with high needs. This government has brought in the highest ever
special-education budget in the province of Ontario. With the
funding formula in 1997, which the members opposite opposed, we
sealed the special-education funding envelope in Ontario so that
boards that got money for special ed could not take that money
and spend it in any other area, could not spend it on
administration or on building a new administrative building. They
could only spend that money on special ed. We sealed that
envelope, and we've continually raised that envelope and the
money within it.
Like all of us, persons with disabilities pay their share of
taxes and service charges and levies and so on, but the Ministry
of Finance has been instrumental in lightening that load over the
last few years in recognition of how unfairly these expenses can
burden persons with disabilities on a daily basis. The Minister
of Finance, in the May budget, announced that 10% of the property
assessment for a new residence that accommodates persons with
disabilities or seniors who would otherwise require care in an
institution would be exempt from taxation. The 2000 budget
included amendments to the Municipal Act to require
municipalities to provide tax relief on a permanent basis to low-
income seniors and persons with disabilities for all types of
property tax increases. We expanded the retail sales tax rebate
for personal-use vehicles purchased for transporting people with
physical disabilities to include additional family members and
non-family caregivers. For getting around the community, we fund
75% of the cost of low-floor buses -- there's $240 million -- and
We subsidize specialized transit services for a total of $134
million between 1995 and 1997.
My municipality has a committee for the disabled. I've had
several meetings with them. I've had Minister Jackson meet with
that same group and some others from St Catharines and other
areas. I had Brenda Elliott, when she was doing some
consultations, meet with a similar group. One of the things they
always talk about is that they would like -- they did not
necessarily always talk about an ODA; they talked about expanded
services. One of those services was transit, so the government
has said, "We are going to get back into transit in a big way."
We've challenged the federal government to come along.
I've noticed the Ontario Liberals have not taken up that
challenge. I understand there's a bit of a fear factor in a lot
of things there. They don't want to stand up to the federal
cousins on how much they're underfunding health care. They're now
at 14 cents: 14 cents out of every health care dollar in Ontario
comes from the federal government. Initially that was supposed to
be a 50-50 split. Every province -- and Ontario -- has asked the
federal government to live up to their end of the bargain and
The NDP has supported us in that call for them to live up to
their responsibilities, but not the Ontario Liberals. I think
that at a lot of their fundraisers nowadays, federal Liberals
come out and support them and that helps them get some people to
their fundraisers. Maybe they don't want to upset the applecart.
That's a sad commentary, because they should be standing up for
Ontario citizens. They did that today, actually. In a resolution
on the police, they finally stood up to their federal cousins,
but I think it was a pretty easy thing for them to stand up to. I
wish the Liberals would do that. I wish the Liberals would stop
I've spoken about just a very small number of the programs we've
introduced or expanded in Ontario. There are all kinds of housing
subsidies for the disabled. There is all kinds of income support
through the ODSP program. There are billions of dollars, over $6
billion a year, that Ontario taxpayers spend on helping Ontarians
with disabilities in this province. For Mr Parsons or members
opposite to say that taxpayers are turning their backs on
government is untrue. I just explained and showed you a raft of
reasons why they're not turning their backs. For the member
opposite, Mr Peters, to say that members of the disabled
community have been hoodwinked, I hope he comes back and
apologizes for that comment because it's insulting. It says that
they can't think for themselves, that they couldn't read this
legislation, that they couldn't look at the program Minister
Jackson laid before them. They decided they liked it. To say they
were hoodwinked says they're not capable of making up their own
minds and their own decisions, and I think he should come back
So I support this legislation. As Mr LaBute from the Ontarians
with Disabilities Act Committee says, "I believe in moving
forward with the purpose and working together to reach a common
goal. The proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act incorporates
this philosophy and offers a level of commitment that is
unprecedented in Canada." Unless you're going to stand up and put
your money where your mouth is, come up with a big thick report,
actually take a stand on an issue and make a recommendation,
maybe introduce a bill of your own, unless you're going to do
that, sit down.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): Before we go to
questions and comments, I've been greatly disturbed this evening.
We are using members' names constantly when we should be using
their ridings. As you know, the standing orders and our
traditions call for that. Let's just remind ourselves that using
the riding name is the proper way to address each other.
Questions and comments?
Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Thank you very much, Mr
Speaker; a good point.
I would like to respond to the member from Niagara Falls, who is,
I think, one of the more considerate and thoughtful members in
Mr Bradley: He'll put that in his literature. I wouldn't say
that. Take it back.
Mr Patten: No, I've been on committee with him and I've seen him
at work and I think he does his homework on a variety of things.
Of course, he has his own bias. He talks about feeling strongly
about an insult to taxpayers. Of course, I don't feel the same
way; I don't think there is an insult to taxpayers. But I would
suggest to him that the rhetoric of his party is always
"taxpayers." It seems to me that it's important to talk about the
people of Ontario, because when he talks about taxpayers, how do
you think seniors feel, who may now be retired -- they may be
paying tax, they may not be; they may be on a fixed income, they
may not be -- people who are disabled, people on welfare for a
temporary period of time etc? So the rhetoric of the member from
Niagara Falls, who I think is frankly a very interesting member,
who works hard, continues to use an economic category of analysis
or description for people in this jurisdiction.
I would suggest to you that perhaps talking about the people of
Ontario, all the people of Ontario, may be the most appropriate
thing to have them all consider, to listen, to be able to respond
in their own way to what might be appropriate in this House as we
deal with those who may be less fortunate because of disabilities
or one thing or another. I did want to make that final point.
Mr Christopherson: In responding to the comments of the member
from Niagara Falls, I found it interesting if not actually gutsy
for him to be accusing or challenging the Liberals to "put their
money where their mouth is" -- a direct quote from his comments -
- given the fact that there's not a nickel attached to this bill.
At the end of the day, removing barriers is going to cost money.
It's going to cost somebody money to give 1.5 million Ontarians
the rights that they're entitled to. Either new construction is
going to pay the price, or on retrofits or on public buildings,
and whether it's private money or public money or a combination
thereof, it's going to cost money. I thought it took an awful lot
of guts for the member to accuse the official opposition of not
putting their money where their mouth is. Where's yours? Not a
nickel here. In fact, the bit of courage he had in setting
himself up for this by making this comment is about the only
courageous thing about this bill.
If you go from the point of view that an Ontarian is an Ontarian
is an Ontarian, that if you have a right to access buildings in
Thunder Bay, you ought to have exactly that same right in
Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto and everywhere in between. Yet what
have you done that's so courageous? You're going to allow
municipalities to require new businesses. I've sat on city
council. I see former city councillors sitting here. We know the
heat they're going to take. You don't have the guts to take the
heat. You put it on to municipalities. If you had any courage and
conviction, you'd have said point blank, "All new buildings must
... every city, period." Take the initiative. Take the
responsibility. It's not here.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I was intrigued by listening to the
member from Niagara Falls. I know the amount of commitment that
he personally has taken in his role as parliamentary assistant to
Minister Baird in his former role.
I think Minister Jackson deserves to be recognized as taking --
although it's a very limited step, I might admit, the most
important thing is to recognize that the problem is there and
take that first step. If I was to look at Bill 125, which we're
discussing, I can't help but think of Minister Baird more
recently this summer visiting the Central Seven, which is the
homes for the special care group. He was there to make a
commitment in capital to provide homes. I think of this in real
terms; I think of families with children with special needs. As
they grow older and their children grow older, they're no longer
able to support them on an ongoing basis. John Baird was there to
make sure that Central Seven had the capital to have a home for
people with special and attendant care.
More recently, Minister Flaherty, in the budget, also recognized
that there was an issue with respect to pay which was somewhat
addressed and is addressed, as the member from Niagara Falls
said. I also think of Grandview children's treatment centre and
the number of children I believe -- they put a request in the
pre-budget for additional funding for children with special
needs. I think it was as much as 20%, and that funding has flowed
in the last budget.
If you look again at Bill 125, another thing it really does take
action on, more importantly perhaps, is in section 13 of the
bill. It says the minister responsible for the administration of
the bill is required to establish an accessibility advisory
Mr Peters: I accepted the challenge from the member from Niagara
to come back into the House. I went back to my office and I
watched with interest his comments this evening. I'll tell you
that if anybody should stand up and apologize to 1.5 million
persons with disabilities in this province, it's the Mike Harris
government. Because you have abandoned them and you did hoodwink
them. Your government and your minister, Minister Jackson over
there, left the impression with the disabled community that this
was going to be a piece of legislation that would be in the best
interests of persons with disabilities in this province. He left
the impression with individuals in this province that those 11
principles that were unanimously endorsed in this Legislature
were going to be included in this legislation.
So if anybody should stand up and apologize to 1.5 million
individuals in this province, it's you, it's the Harris
government, because you've abandoned persons with disabilities in
this province. You can stand up all you want and talk about all
the wonderful things you've done with money. We hear about the
dollars for individuals with special needs in this province, with
developmental disabilities. Do you know that money that the
minister announced? I think it would be really good to have the
auditor go out and do an audit, and look at where that money
went, and go have a look at John Baird's riding and see how much
money went into his riding, and see how much money went to
London. Do you know how much money? Four new spaces.
You're telling me you're committed to persons with disabilities
across this province? That's a joke. You have abandoned them. The
honourable member talked in his comments about his own advisory
committee that exists within the community of Niagara Falls. You
go sit down and talk to those individuals and you find out, now
that they've had an opportunity to read this legislation and look
at what's not in this legislation, they do see how you have
abandoned them and they do see how you've hoodwinked them.
I think you should be ashamed of that, because this was a piece
of legislation that obviously had unanimous support all around
this Legislature for the past six years, and you stood back and
abandoned 1.5 million persons in this province.
The Acting Speaker: Response?
Mr Maves: I'd like to thank all the members for responding to my
To the member from Elgin-Middlesex-London, I was hopeful when you
came back in that you would indeed apologize. You said a lot; you
spoke really fast. I listened closely. You still didn't.
To the member from Hamilton West, put your money where your mouth
is. My whole entire speech was about the $6 billion that
taxpayers spend annually on helping Ontarians with disabilities,
including retail sales tax breaks, the $100-million assistive
devices programs and the tax incentives for businesses to make
their workplaces more accessible.
To the member from Ottawa Centre, who said, "I wish the member
opposite, the member for Niagara Falls, would consider the
people, not just the economics and all the money that you've
invested in this area for people with disabilities in the
province of Ontario," I would just say, I think I did speak about
the people. I did speak from first-hand knowledge, for instance,
of my tour of about 15 cities, meeting with adults with
developmental disabilities, their parents, their caregivers in
community living facilities, day programs, respite programs, work
experience programs. They came and said we needed an investment
again. I went back to John Baird and said, "John, they do need an
investment," and John went to the Minister of Finance and said,
"They do need an investment." The Minister of Finance, in the
last budget, did come through with a large investment for that
sector. That was about people. That was about going out, seeing
people, asking them what their needs were, realizing that they
had those needs and responding.
That has happened again and again. It happened with adults with
physical disabilities. Children's treatment centres was another
example I gave.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Bradley: Mr Speaker, I'll be sharing my time with the member
In my first remarks, I would like to indicate that I am at least
relieved to find that we have some kind of legislation before the
House to debate. We had a promise from the Premier of this
province, made in 1995, that we would have a meaningful Ontario
act dealing with people with disabilities. You know how you
always hear the Conservatives say, "A promise made, a promise
kept," and there's a certain segment of the media who buy that. I
must say, they've been quite successful in perpetrating that myth
upon the people of this province. When you're in politics, you
have a little bit of I guess envy of that ability to perpetrate a
myth of that kind on the people of this province. They have said
it on many occasions. If you keep saying it enough, then when you
read a national columnist who doesn't cover this Legislature,
even the national columnist will then continue to perpetrate that
myth, in this case not only perpetrate but perpetuate that myth
to the people of this province.
That was a promise that was broken. We had a sham of an act
brought forward by the honourable Isabel Bassett, then the member
for St Paul's, who was not allowed to bring forward a bill which
had teeth in it. People with disabilities in this province, or
indeed in any other jurisdiction, are deserving of the right to
live their lives as others do. This is not a privilege we grant
to them. This instead is a right, surely, that people have as
human beings. They had to fight for this for a long time.
I can recall my days on St Catharines city council where, when it
was proposed by people with disabilities that the curbs be cut so
that wheelchairs could go down or up when you reach the sidewalk,
there were many people who said at that time, "We can't do that
because vehicles will be jumping the curb, then, and causing
great problems." Arguments were made in that silly a fashion
against what people with disabilities were proposing.
Around the world, particularly where there are the financial
resources to implement it, we have wanted to see people with
disabilities have the same rights as others. I think of it in
education, where there are many physical barriers to people
accessing the kind of education they would like to have and are
We have in the field of transportation the same situation. One
need only look at the subway system in Toronto to see that it's
certainly not accessible to people with disabilities. A little
complaint here on the other side is that very often the escalator
is going the wrong way. I could never figure out an escalator
going down, for instance, in a subway. It should virtually always
be going up. But for people with disabilities, they would
appreciate having a way to access the subway system.
Our buses now are equipped to deal with people who have physical
disabilities. We have a service that, while it is better than
what used to be the case, is not what people with disabilities
would like it to be. I'm talking about a special transit service
for people with disabilities, the paratransit, as it's called. I
thank the people within our communities who have made a financial
contribution to the capital cost. There are many organizations,
just to mention one, such as the Royal Canadian Legion and so
many others in our communities who've made that contribution, but
that has had to come from the volunteer sector, along with the
transit commission locally. We would like to see that service
enhanced and expanded, and indeed what many people with
disabilities would say is, "We would even prefer if you would
make the so-called regular service accessible to those of us who
have physical disabilities."
I think it's important to do it right when we bring forward a
bill of this kind. Perhaps somewhere along the line the
government will significantly modify the bill to make it
acceptable to people who, upon reflection, have found the bill
wanting in many ways. Certainly there are those out there who are
so desperate for some kind of legislation that is a start that
they might be prepared to endorse this piece of legislation as a
beginning, but many find it, as I say, wanting in many different
I want to thank my colleagues -- and you'll forgive me, because
you just told the House that we should be using ridings. The
problem is, the riding names keep changing, so I'll ask for your
forgiveness in this particular case, Mr Speaker, when I mention
my colleague Mr Peters and my colleague Mr Duncan, who brought
forward a resolution in this House. I remember because I gave up
my spot in the time for private members' public business to allow
him to present the resolution because I thought it was timely and
important that we do so. And Mr Parsons -- so we've had three. I
thank you for your forbearance. I know members of the House, like
myself, sometimes have to scramble to look at the specific names
of the new ridings.
I would like to thank my own colleagues. There are probably
people on the government side who should be thanked. That's why
we have government speakers, to thank themselves.
Hon Robert W. Runciman (Minister of Economic Development and
Trade): We don't do that on this side.
Mr Bradley: To my friend from Brockville, Leeds-Grenville or
whatever the new name of the riding is, when I get asked by the
news media, who will sometimes say, "Don't you say anything good
about the government, or do you not have a good comment on the
budget?" I say, "Well, phone Bart Maves, the member for Niagara
Falls. He will tell you why the budget is good, and I will find
perhaps the deficiencies in it." I may find certain aspects of
the budget to be acceptable or supportable, but I know that in
the limited amount of time I have, my role as a member of the
opposition is to explain where I think it's deficient, where it
might be better, and a member of the government has the role of
extolling the virtues of that budget.
I know that other members have mentioned, with justification, the
fact that municipalities, at least municipalities of over 10,000
people, have certain obligations that they must meet. This is a
classic case of downloading, not because the government is
requiring that municipalities undertake certain activities to
make themselves much more acceptable in terms of the quality of
life for people with disabilities but because they do so without
providing the financial resources. We know that municipalities
largely depend upon the property tax, which does not take into
account a person's ability to pay. They require that property tax
to fund what they are doing outside of the now skyrocketing user
fees they're forced to impose on people in the municipalities
because of the downloading of responsibility from this province
I'll tell you, the people on the front line take all the flak,
and that is as it has been, I suppose, for some time, because
they're the people you can get at. For instance, in my riding
this week there are discussions taking place about the closing of
community schools, schools within neighbourhoods. It's easy to
get at the local trustees and blame the local trustees, and
indeed they have to make the final decision. But it's really the
funding formula imposed upon boards of education for keeping
local schools, neighbourhood schools, open that is the villain in
the piece. I draw that as an analogy with the requirement being
imposed upon municipalities, justifiably, in this legislation;
but what they require, then, is assistance with the financial
resources. Where are they going to get the money?
The provincial government in this province has decided that
instead of investing in matters of this kind, in the
implementation of this piece of legislation, they are going to
give a tax cut to the rich in the province: a $2.2-billion tax
cut for the corporations; an at least $300-million tax break for
voucher education, that is, for people sending their kids to
private schools; and then yet another income tax cut in the
If you knock on doors and ask people, "Would you like a tax cut?"
the immediate reaction most people will give is, "Sure, I'd love
it," until you explain the consequences of that tax cut. Nobody
today, outside of a few genuine and ardent supporters of this
government, believes this theory about, "If only you cut these
corporation taxes, we are going to get much more back in
revenue." Nobody believes that, even the most conservative
I've quoted many times my friend Dr Joseph Kushner, who has been
called by columnists in a local newspaper Dr Negative and
Professor No, or Dr No and Professor Negative -- I can't decide
which -- and Frosty the No-man and so on because in his 26 years
on St Catharines city council he has been the voice of frugality
when it comes to local taxpayers. He has been the voice of
caution. He has indicated clearly -- he once said this at council
when they were talking about the tax cut previously -- that the
combination of tax cuts and expenditure cuts by the government is
in fact contractionary. He said that any economist worth his salt
will tell you that.
Yet this government tries to, again, perpetrate upon the people
of this province the myth that somehow all these tax cuts are
going to bring back more revenues. The Minister of Finance will
get up and say, "Well, look, over the last six years it has
brought in all this additional revenue." That was the booming
economy in the United States. There would have been even more
revenue, so that we would not have had to put the province in
over $20 billion in additional debt under the Conservatives,
which we did, if indeed they had awaited the implementation of
their tax cuts until such time as they had the budget balanced.
I see my friend from Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, my friend Bill
Murdoch here. I'm not supposed to use the names. I know that. I'm
going to be reprimanded for that. I think it was that member and
the now Minister of Labour, the now Speaker, the member for
Oakville, and I think Mr Arnott -- again, I break the rule, but
it is Waterloo-Wellington, I'm sure, in this case. I know you
want me to --
The Acting Speaker: You've been pushing this for quite a while.
Mr Bradley: They've been members a longer time. They said, "Look,
wait until you've got the budget balanced; then implement your
tax cuts." But instead this government borrowed money to give tax
cuts. What happened was that the debt of the province went way
up. If you said that to the national commentators, they would
stare at you blankly and say, "Surely the debt of the province
didn't go up under the Conservatives." It went up $22 billion
under the Conservatives because they did not listen to the
cautioning of at least four members -- maybe more I don't know
about -- who said, "OK. We're in favour of tax cuts, but wait
till you've got the budget balanced. Then we don't add to the
debt. It doesn't make sense." Also, they recognized that if
you're going to do that, you'd have to cut these budgets.
The Minister of the Environment is here. She had to accept the
consequences of all these cuts when she took over the ministry.
She has now been able to secure, as a result of the pressure of
the opposition I'm sure, more funding for her ministry. But she
now recognizes that the Minister of Finance will be wielding an
axe at the Ministry of the Environment again.
Why do I mention all these things in the context of this
particular piece of legislation? It's because there are some
provisions in this legislation that are good, and it is wanting
in many ways. I say that because the implementation is going to
be rather interesting without the necessary provincial funding.
I would think that we could find that money, for instance, if the
government quit its blatant political advertising. I appeared on
a Global television show back when Robert Fisher was on Global.
The member for Oakville, who is now the Speaker, was -- I won't
say defending the government position; he was there to explain
the government position. He was honest enough to say on that
occasion that even he found it hard to accept the kind of
government advertising we were seeing. What do we hear now?
There's more advertising. They're advertising the advertising.
They're saying, with their television ads, "Wait till you get On,
this magazine that's coming to you with a picture of the
Premier." It won't be the one of his golfing in Florida that the
Toronto Star got; it will be a very favourable-looking photograph
of the Premier. I'm saying that if you took the money you were
going to give away to the richest people in the province in tax
cuts, and if you took the money you're going to spend on
government advertising and invested part of it in the
implementation of this bill, I think the applause for the bill
would be much louder and much more sincere. So I urge that on the
I want to pick one aspect of the bill to deal with, and that is
the implementation of its provisions. I also lament the fact that
it leaves the private sector almost untouched, unlike the
American bill that deals with people with disabilities, because I
think the private sector has an obligation as well.
I promised that I would share with my colleague from Prescott-
Russell some of the time this evening to talk about this bill, so
I'm going to yield the floor at this time to my good friend.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Prescott-Russell.
M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell) : Je voudrais
juste apporter une correction : c'est Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
It used to be Prescott and Russell; now it is Glengarry-Prescott-
Russell. I want to make sure that this region is not forgotten.
C'est toujours un plaisir de prendre la parole et débattre un
projet de loi. La raison pour laquelle nous débattons un projet
de loi de la sorte, c'est afin d'informer le public le mieux
possible sur le contenu du projet de loi.
Ce projet de loi est intitulé Loi visant à améliorer le repérage,
l'élimination et la prévention des obstacles auxquels font face
les personnes handicapées et apportant des modifications connexes
à d'autres lois. Ce projet de loi est attendu depuis plus de six
ans. C'est une des promesses qui faisaient partie de la plate-
forme électorale du gouvernement Harris en 1995. Je peux dire que
voilà déjà six ans et quatre mois, aujourd'hui nous arrivons avec
ce projet de loi qui a été déposé parce qu'un membre du Parti
libéral de l'Ontario, le député de Windsor-St Clair, a mis des
pressions sur le gouvernement afin qu'on vienne avec ce projet de
Lorsque nous regardons le projet de loi, on peut dire que ce
projet de loi n'a pas de dents. We say in English that this bill
has no teeth. The reason I say this bill has no teeth is that we
refer too often -- je vais lire quelques passages dans ce projet
de loi : « Le gouvernement ... en consultation. » En consultation
? Il faut dire que le gouvernement donnera les responsabilités
aux conseils municipaux de mettre sur pied un comité, mais je
passais à travers le projet de loi et je me demande, quels seront
les critères que ce comité-là doit avoir en place ? Je continue :
« ... lorsque cela est techniquement possible. » Techniquement
possible ? Quelle est la définition de « techniquement » lorsque
je demande à une personne handicapée, « lorsque cela est
techniquement possible », encore une fois ? « Le gouvernement
peut inclure des exigences... » Encore là, on dit « peut inclure
». Je dis toujours que c'est un projet de loi qui n'a pas de
Je continue encore. À l'article 11 : « Le lieutenant-gouverneur
en conseil peut, par règlement, désigner des organisations, ou
des catégories d'organisations, à ajouter à l'annexe ou à l'en
retirer. » Donc, encore une fois, c'est autant dire qu'on peut
faire ça, mais le tout sera décidé par le comité qui sera mis en
Lorsque je regarde le projet de loi dans son entier, je peux voir
que oui, à quelques endroits tels que l'article numéro 3, nous
référons à des amendes qui vont au-delà de 300 $ à 5 000 $, qui
auparavant étaient de 60 $ et non plus de 500 $. Mais dans
plusieurs endroits, lorsque nous regardons le moment où il s'agit
des stationnements pour les personnes handicapées, on réfère
seulement à 300 $. On ne réfère jamais aux 5 000 $.
Je peux dire que oui, ce gouvernement a l'habitude de présenter
des projets de loi mais ne met jamais en place la loi telle que
prescrite dans le projet de loi. Je parlais cet après-midi à
Manon Le Paven, qui est la présidente du comité des services en
français à Toronto. Elle me disait qu'au 85, L'Esplanade ici même
à Toronto, nous avons un bloc appartements de 130 logis.
Seulement 16 en sont conçus pour les handicapés. Nous regardons
le centre d'accueil Héritage : un appartement sur 135 logis. Où
sont les critères déjà établis, qu'on nous disait, pour la
protection de nos handicapés ?
Je parlais aussi, la semaine dernière, avec la ministre
responsable pour les services de longue durée dans nos résidences
de personnes âgées. Elle nous disait que la consultation avait
été faite. J'ai traversé pour lui demander, où avons-nous fait
les consultations ? Il est rare que nous prenons le temps de nous
rendre dans le secteur rural pour connaître les besoins des
personnes qui sont prises dans des situations comme celles-ci
dans le secteur rural.
The Acting Speaker: Questions, comments?
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I appreciate the opportunity
this evening to follow on what I thought were very good
presentations by the member for St Catharines and the member for
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. The member for St Catharines focused
on the issue of implementation. It's interesting, because this
morning there was a very important press conference in this
building by a number of groups that represent the disabled in
Ontario. They had a very simple and yet clear message for the
government, and it was primarily around the question of
implementation, because they want this bill to work. They want
things in this bill that indicate to them a seriousness, which
they've yet to detect, that this government will make sure that
those things they set out for municipalities and other government
organizations to do are enforceable, that there are penalties in
place if that in fact doesn't happen.
One of the issues they raised as well that I think is important
to put on the table here tonight in terms of implementation is
that it seems to be focused almost solely on issues of mobility
and access for people with mobility challenges. They're saying
that they hope this government is going to be willing to expand
this legislation to guarantee that it will deal with and provide
opportunity for every form of disability in this province,
whether it be a mental disability, a physical disability, a
disability of hearing or seeing or whatever, that it takes in the
whole realm. They don't see at this point that in fact this bill
does that. So the minister perhaps, in his opportunity to talk to
us for two minutes, may want to comment on that. They said that.
They also hope that the government is going to be willing to
accept significant amendments to the bill and that they will be
willing to go out across the province and listen to people in the
recess, the January, February, March period when the House is not
Hon Mr Jackson: First of all I want to acknowledge the comments
by the member for St Catharines and the member for Glengarry-
Prescott-Russell. At the outset, I would like to commend the
member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell because he's the first
member in this House who actually held the bill in his hand and
made reference to it. It is particularly important, given the
fact that the critic for the Liberal Party has consumed one hour
of this House's time without ever once specifically referencing
the bill, and yet the member, in the brief time that was
presented to him, whether he was critical of it or not, at least
was dealing with the substance of this bill.
We have indicated very clearly that this bill creates some
unprecedented opportunities in Ontario. Particularly, nowhere in
North America can we find any legislation which specifically
empowers the disabilities community to set regulations. The
member opposite alluded to that, and I appreciate his bringing
that to our attention. He has expressed legitimate concerns about
whether or not the legislation is clear enough about the
authority that the disabilities community has. I commend the
member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell because he understands --
and he's been one of the first members to acknowledge that in
fact this legislation does empower them to do that. We will
welcome any friendly amendments that help clarify that point if
it gives additional comfort and satisfaction to those people. But
the fundamental principle is that this legislation contains the
opportunity for the disabilities community to make those
decisions. The ADA in the United States doesn't include it. There
is no legislation in Canada and there's no legislation in the
United States that includes this important opportunity, and I
want to commend the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell --
The Acting Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Gravelle: I want to compliment the member for St Catharines
and the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell for their
thoughtful remarks. I think it is important to state that one of
the concerns we all have is that we've all been quite desperate
to have this legislation brought forward. There have been many
remarks made in the House throughout the evening trying to
compare who did what, when or who didn't do what, when in terms
of bringing forward legislation. Indeed, this government did make
a commitment back in 1995, and it took this long to bring forward
this legislation. It has taken six and a half years to get to
Yes, there are some organizations that want to move forward with
this legislation. I will acknowledge that. But the concerns that
are being expressed by many people are exacerbated by the fact
that now we are seeing a process whereby the next time this bill
is called, it will be for a time allocation measure. The debate
will be cut off. We will have an immediate vote on second reading
and we will then be going to public hearings. We are glad we are
going to public hearings, but it is happening awfully quickly. We
are not going to enough communities. I don't think we are giving
the disabilities community enough time. They've made that very
clear to me. They would like to have more time to examine the
bill and more time to put forward their presentations.
By December 7, the public hearings will be concluded. By December
11, we will have clause-by-clause discussion and amendments will
come forward. I would really hope that the minister -- I
appreciate his being in the House tonight -- will genuinely
listen to some of the amendments, because there are some
important amendments that very much need to be made. What we all
fear is that these amendments will not be accepted because, as
has been referenced by several members, this bill in and of
itself deals more strictly with disability issues related to
mobility. I had a meeting last week in Thunder Bay with the
disabilities community, and the deaf community came out in large
numbers, very concerned about the legislation. We have these
suspicions and we have these concerns, and I do think this is
being put through the Legislature way too quickly.
Mr Christopherson: The member from St Catharines underscored and
talked about the requirements of municipalities under the bill.
The minister, just a few minutes ago, said he was so impressed
when people stood up and held the bill and pointed to it. Well,
here you go: I'm holding it, I'm pointing to it and I'm making
reference to sections 15, 16 and the attached schedule. The
attached schedule, of course, is a list of everybody whom you are
telling to do the job that, quite frankly, you ought to be doing
with this bill. This is in the schedule, Minister. I'm actually
holding the bill. Remember, the thing that impresses you so much?
You tell every district school board, every hospital, every board
of governors of a college and every university in Ontario that
they are required to present accessibility plans to this
government. Where are the timelines? Where are the goals? Most
importantly, where's the money going to come from? You're not
putting up a dime.
When I challenged the member from Niagara Falls earlier, he
rattled off a whole list of other line items, but nothing
attached to this bill. I said earlier, and no government member
has refuted it, that at the end of the day this is a measure that
costs money. Giving disabled persons their rights costs money,
much like democracy itself costs money. You're not providing it,
but you are really good at dictating what everybody else has to
do. Given the downloading that you've dropped on every district
school board, every hospital, every college and every university,
how are they supposed to pay for it? What other programs will the
disabled and the general population not be able to access because
they've got to divert money -- except that you don't force
anybody to do anything anyway. There you go, Minister; I pointed
to the bill, but it is still empty.
The Acting Speaker: Response.
Mr Bradley: On behalf of the member for Glengarry-Prescott-
Russell and myself, I appreciate the remarks that were made by
members of the House. I want to say that the member for Hamilton
West again identifies and underlines the important part of the
implementation, and that is the funding. He has schools in his
community that are closing at the present time because of another
funding formula. Now those boards are going to be asked to find
money to implement the provisions of this bill, so it's going to
make things even worse unless they get financial assistance from
The member for Thunder Bay-Superior North talked about, I think
wisely, the amount of consultation now that the bill is before us
and the need for people to be able to evaluate it and its
implications and make recommendations on how it can be improved.
The member for Burlington talked about those of us who have not
held the bill in our hands. I hold the bill in my hand once again
and I would say --
Hon Mr Jackson: But you haven't read it.
Mr Bradley: He makes accusations, as he did against the Liberal
critic in this field in this Legislature. This comes from my good
friend, who is very objective in these matters. He doesn't have a
vested interest. The member for Sault Ste Marie told me this
evening that the Liberal critic in this case dissected this bill
section by section, totally contrary to what the minister just
told this House. He has no vested interest in making Liberals
look good. He's a fair-minded member who wanted to contradict
what the minister had to say. I respect the member for Sault Ste
Marie for saying that and for talking about its enforceability
and its implementation, as he should.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mrs Tina R. Molinari (Thornhill): I am pleased tonight to be able
to participate in the discussion of Bill 125, the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act, 2001.
I want to first start by congratulating the minister, Cam
Jackson, for bringing this bill forward, because it's in essence
a bill that will benefit all Ontarians with disabilities across
the province. So I want to congratulate him for all of the work
that he's done in the consultation process in bringing this bill
forward and putting it together.
With this bill, the government is moving dramatically to increase
independence and opportunity for persons with disabilities. We
are, again, keeping our promise, and persons with disabilities
will now have more of a say than ever in decisions which affect
their lives. We have embarked on a journey whose destination is a
society where old barriers are removed and no new barriers will
ever be created. We will not rest until we arrive at this
destination. Our government has made a special commitment to
persons with disabilities, a commitment that builds and has gone
Ontario is recognized as a leader in services for persons with
disabilities. Our foundation of legislation and services for
persons with disabilities, including the federal Charter of
Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code, is
considered the strongest in North America. But barriers do
remain. We must finish the job.
Ontario can no longer afford to deny persons with disabilities
the fullness of citizenship and human experience. What do I
really mean when I say that?
It means getting in and around a community safely. It means the
right to get into the local library or the local recreation
centre. The right to attend and participate in town hall
meetings, in council meetings. The right to go to the local mall
or Main Street and shop for essentials. The right to participate
as any other individual in Ontario can. It means being able to
eat in a restaurant of choice, getting a job that nurtures your
skill, travelling to the next community and getting around there
safely. The right to live as independently as possible.
Those are the things that so many people in society enjoy every
day, the real and tangible things that make a life full.
The people of Ontario are fair and inclusive. Their attitudes
have been shifting for some time now. They know there is a
problem and that the time has come to set it right. Our
government believes Ontario must build on this momentum to move
forward with the province, to move forward with this legislation.
Persons with disabilities represent a significant and growing
part of our population. Today, according to Statistics Canada,
more than 1.6 million Ontarians have disabilities. As our
population ages, the proportion of persons with disabilities
increases. Two decades from now, it's estimated that nearly 20%
of the population will have a disability. That's one in every
five people. And that's just persons with disabilities.
Accessibility challenges also affect the millions of parents,
grandparents, families, friends, neighbours, co-workers and
professionals who are involved with disabled persons on a daily
When you look at these figures, it becomes clear that enhancing
the ability of persons with disabilities to have equal access to
opportunity, to live an independent life and to make a
contribution to their community will have a significant positive
impact on the province's future prosperity.
It has been estimated, for example, that the potential spending
power of Canadians with disabilities is as much as $20 billion to
$25 billion per year. Measures that improve accessibility and
opportunity are consequently bound to generate significant
economic benefits for all Ontarians.
But you and I know that the moral argument supersedes all other
arguments here. The values that attract people to Ontario --
tolerance and fairness, equality and justice -- are those values
most strongly offended by a continued failure to act on behalf of
persons with disabilities. If our words are to have meaning, then
we should act.
The minister did act. On November 1 the Minister of Citizenship
unveiled Independence and Opportunity: Ontario's Framework for
Change for Persons with Disabilities. The vision statement
affirms our society's determination to work for an Ontario where
old barriers are removed and no new ones are created, to work for
that future of independence and opportunity that persons with
disabilities so richly deserve.
Let me read a portion from it:
"The people of Ontario support the right of every person with a
disability to live as independently as possible, to enjoy equal
opportunity and to participate fully in every aspect of life in
"We believe that the dignity and worth of all Ontarians should be
respected and valued.
"We have a responsibility to ensure that persons with
disabilities share the same rights, freedoms and obligations as
every Ontarian. This is a responsibility which rests with every
government, every region, every institution, every association,
every sector and every person in Ontario....
"The government of Ontario pledges to work in partnership with
Ontarians to build on what we have already achieved together. We
will move steadily towards a province in which no new barriers to
persons with disabilities are created and existing ones are
That's from Independence and Opportunity: The Vision We Share. It
is signed by the Premier and the Minister of Citizenship.
The vision is going to be widely displayed. It will be framed and
you will find it in government buildings, schools, hospitals,
municipal buildings, hotels and thousands of other places.
Our government consulted with more than 100 individuals and
groups, persons with disabilities, municipalities, the broader
public sector and the private sector. I hosted a consultation in
my own riding, a round table that dealt with Ontarians with
disabilities. I'm proud to say that some of the ideas that came
out of the round table in Thornhill are incorporated in this
legislation today. So I can tell my constituents of Thornhill
that not only am I listening as their representative, I'm
bringing the issues forward to the minister and the minister has
incorporated them into this bill.
One of the issues that came out of the Thornhill consultation was
the issue around handicapped parking. That is addressed in this
bill. The municipalities should be more involved in how persons
with disabilities are put into society, so they are integrated
and able to have access to all the things that everyone else can
We believe that a gradual but steady commitment to increasing
accessibility is the responsible choice. We believe in moving
forward together while remaining flexible, sharing what works and
breaking new ground.
We believe these days will be looked back on decades from now as
being pivotal in the drive for full accessibility, opportunity
and independence for persons with disabilities, and for their
many friends and families and caregivers. We have a clear,
sensible strategy here that sets reachable objectives. We have
embarked on a coordinated, concentrated effort to bring real and
tangible change to the daily lives of millions of people.
I urge this House to vote in favour of this legislation, because
this legislation has had clear consultation from people across
the province. I encourage those in this House to read the
legislation and see how inclusive it is, how all the
municipalities will be working toward finding ways to include,
each in their own municipalities, something that is not standard
province-wide; it has to be looked at on an individual
municipality basis. I was pleased to be able to host it in my
riding with some of my constituents who have disabilities.
The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan): I appreciate the
commitment the member for Thornhill has expressed in the remarks
she has made on this bill tonight. I accept that her commitment
is very real and genuine. I would suspect, given the depth of
concern she's demonstrated in her remarks tonight, that she must,
if she could be honest about it, be somewhat disappointed that
her own government has not reflected the same degree of
commitment in its legislation that she has spoken to tonight. I
am sure she wishes that the kind of commitment she has spoken to
as being the government's commitment was in fact reflected in
substantive differences that would be made for the disabled
community through this bill. But I can't find it.
I suspect the member for Thornhill was embarrassed with the first
iteration of this government's disability bill, the long-promised
disability bill. It was, as I recall, two pages of absolutely
nothing, no commitment, no substance, no real direction even.
I look at this new bill, and as I reference the bill and hold it
up for the minister who is still in the House to see, I see that
it is somewhat more substantive in terms of the number of pages
it contains, but is significantly lacking in any real substance
in terms of clearly stated goals, in terms of measurable outcomes
for any level of government, and most particularly the provincial
level of government is completely devoid of any commitment to the
resources that would be necessary to ensure that the non-goals
could be achieved, if they were goals, and is absolutely devoid
of any enforcement, because what is there here to enforce?
I will use one example. If I had more time in my two minutes I
could refer to specific parts of the legislation. I have in my
riding -- I think it's probably true throughout a good part of
northwestern Ontario -- a significant hard-of-hearing and deaf
population. There is one interpreter. I ask the member opposite
and I ask the minister to tell me what in this legislation will
compel the government to provide additional interpretation for
the deaf in my community.
Mr Christopherson: I'm pleased to respond to the remarks of the
member for Thornhill. Actually I thought the beginning of her
speech was well written. Certainly they were nice words and they
were strung together well. I jotted down a couple of the thoughts
that were there in the early part of her comments. She talked
about the desire and the laudable goal --
Mr Christopherson: Would the Minister of Citizenship stop?
She said that people should have the right to the fullness of
citizenship -- very laudable, absolutely -- that people should be
able to eat the meal of their choice at the business of their
choice. I'm probably paraphrasing that a bit, but that was the
essence of it. The same with shopping. They should be able to
shop for what they choose at the business of their choosing. The
reason I mention these very lofty words at the beginning of her
speech is that I wasn't sure what bill she was referring to. When
I listen to the speech and I look at the bill, the two don't fit.
It's again more of saying one thing but legislating quite
another. There's very little in the goals she described that I or
anybody else would disagree with, but if you look to the bill,
that doesn't happen.
The fullness of citizenship: there is no new requirement that new
buildings have to be accessible. You told municipalities that
they can be the heavies with their local business, but you won't
do it as a government. And if municipalities choose not to, for
whatever reason, it means it's not going to happen. I would ask
the member how, without insisting that new buildings are
accessible, you're providing the fullness of citizenship to
citizens who will be denied access to some new buildings that
The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?
Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): I'm pleased to rise this
evening to speak to Bill 125, the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act, 2001. I want to compliment the member for Thornhill for her
comments. She's done a phenomenal job as the member from that
area. I'd also like to compliment the Minister of Citizenship,
Minister Jackson, for his work on this for a long period of time
and for his foresight.
When we look back over many decades, this bill is long overdue. I
can understand, opposition members here this evening, that you
don't like good news. This bill complements what Ontarians for
many years have expected of a government.
Today we have this bill in front of us. There's some good debate
on it. I understand the positive and negative comments I've heard
from all members of the House. But the fact of the matter is that
it's long overdue; it's something we expect of our government.
Maybe there should be some massaging or some amendments; I don't
know. The fact of the matter is that it's here, and it's healthy
that we have the opportunity to debate this evening.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the minister for
the fact that he amended a bill this afternoon for Mr McGuinty. I
thought that it was positive. I compliment Mr McGuinty for coming
forward with the bill, but I'm glad that my Minister of
Citizenship, Minister Jackson, saw the opportunity to complete
that resolution, to make that motion more complete and more
positive for the ratepayers of our province.
In closing and taking a few words, I'd like to thank everybody
for supporting this bill, and I fully expect everyone will
support this Ontarians with Disability Act, 2001.
Mrs Leona Dombrowsky (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington): I
too am prepared to offer some comments on the statements made by
the member for Thornhill. As well, the member for Barrie has made
some statements that I think need to be referenced tonight.
The member said that this bill is long overdue, and I couldn't
agree with you more. In fact, in 1995 your leader, Mike Harris,
promised the people of Ontario that he would introduce an
Ontarians with Disabilities Act and make it a law in his first
term. That concluded in 1999 and there was no law. I certainly
know, within the community of people who have disabilities, how
profoundly disappointed they were when Mike Harris broke that
promise to them. So I agree that this bill is long overdue.
What I'm so very disappointed with, however, is that while again
we see a bill from the government that has a wonderful title --if
one were to read the titles of the bills that have been
introduced by this government, one would think that we lived in
Utopia. This bill is entitled An Act to improve the
identification, removal and prevention of barriers faced by
persons with disabilities and to make related amendments to other
Acts, and it strikes me as strange. I would suggest to members of
the government who think this is such a great piece of
legislation to talk about the stakeholder groups that you know,
persons with disabilities in Ontario who think this bill should
be supported, because we're hearing from them and they're saying
that it is not good legislation and that you need to improve it.
That's what we're here to tell you tonight.
The Acting Speaker: We'll have response from the member from
Mrs Molinari: I'm pleased to respond to the members for Thunder
Bay-Atikokan, Hamilton West, Simcoe North and Hastings-Frontenac-
Lennox and Addington. Thank you very much for contributing in the
debate here this evening.
Just to clarify some of the points that were made: one was
commitment to resources. I just want to put on the record that
the commitment to resources from this government to persons with
disabilities has been very consistent. As a matter of fact, I can
talk about Thornhill. We have the arena centre; there is now an
elder home for persons aging with disabilities supported by the
Ministry of Community and Social Services. We also have a home
for youth with autism and there's been money invested in that. So
there definitely have been contributions for persons with
disabilities. It doesn't necessarily have to be in a piece of
legislation that's the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The
commitment is there, and it has been from this government for a
long time. The member for Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington
talked about a promise. Well, we did make a promise and it's
here. This is what we promised, with all due respect to the
This bill also talks about the municipalities and their
involvement, because one size does not fit all. We need to have
the municipalities involved in breaking down barriers for persons
with disabilities. They will develop an accessibility plan. The
accessibility plan shall address the identification, removal and
prevention of barriers to persons with disabilities in their
municipal bylaws. There is also in the legislation a report on
the measures the municipality has taken to identify, remove and
prevent barriers to persons with disabilities. Clearly, the
municipalities have to take a partnership in this.
The Acting Speaker: It being well past 9:30 of the clock, this
House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow
The House adjourned at 2133.